Media Veterans: Social Media Requires Media Literacy Skills Too | St. Louis Public Radio

Media Veterans: Social Media Requires Media Literacy Skills Too

Nov 10, 2014

Credit Gateway Media Literacy Partners

New types of media, including social media, are changing the media landscape, but aren’t changing the need for media literacy.

“We define media literacy at Project Look Sharp as the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media,” Sox Sperry told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Monday. Sperry is director of curriculum and staff development at Project Look Sharp, a media literacy initiative at Ithaca College in New York.

“We feel that it is critical to do two things: One is to help students develop habits of inquiry around media consumption, since we’re all consuming media of different kinds all the time,” Sperry said. “The best way we think to do that is to take particular media documents and deconstruct them — look at them, ask the key questions: Who made this? For what purpose? What’s included? What’s left out? What’s the bias? How do I find more about this?”

Sperry will lead two media literacy workshops Wednesday during the Gateway Media Literacy Partners’ media literacy week, which will focus this year on environmentalism and science reporting. Events are planned across the St. Louis area to examine and discuss how the media fosters and hinders environmental awareness.

“We live in a world of ever increasing complexity when it comes to the media,” Sperry said. “There’s also an ever increasing source of information if we know where to look and how to look to help find those answers to where this comes from and what are the interests behind them.”

Social media has made it easier and faster to spread information, whether it’s true or false.

“I think all of us who are in their 60s are concerned about the new social media and are they checking out where the evidence comes from,” said Don Corrigan, editor of Times Newspapers, a Webster University journalism professor and author of “Environmental Missouri: Issues and Sustainability — What You Need to Know.”

Media also has become a generational issue, Corrigan said, citing a weekend interview with former “CBS Evening News” anchor Dan Rather on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” about which media outlet “won” the election.

“Dan Rather said this discussion is irrelevant because young people aren’t watching TV anymore, and that’s true,” Corrigan said. “In my media class, I start talking about television and their eyes glaze over ’cause they’re not watching television at all. This isn’t even a relevant discussion to them on whether the TV and cable have gotten politicized or not, ’cause they’re all looking at their Facebook sites and tweeting. They’re in a whole different world than their parents.”

But even digital and social media requires media literacy and analysis, Sperry said.

“We have to develop the patience to be able to spend some time with a particular document, going through and asking these questions,” he said. “I think the fast-paced nature of media consumption these days, and moving from one thing to another, multitasking, makes that a daunting challenge, but I think it’s a really important one.”

Related Events

Media Literacy Week: 'Environmentalism: The Media Ecosystem'

'From iPad into the Fire: Talking About Climate Using the Tools of Media Literacy'

  • Media literacy week workshop led by Sox Sperry
  • When: 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 12, 2014
  • Where: Room 200 of the St. Louis Community College at Meramec Student Center, 11333 Big Bend Road, St. Louis
  • More information

'Environmental Front Lines: Learning to Read the World Right Where We Live'

  • Media literacy week workshop led by Sox Sperry
  • When: Noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 12, 2014
  • Where: Room 200 of the St. Louis Community College at Meramec Student Center, 11333 Big Bend Road, St. Louis
  • More information

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.