A Media Literacy Menu
Ingredients for Successful Media Studies

Valuable recommendations for teachers by Canadian media education expert Barry Duncan

1. A critical thinking skill that enables audiences to develop independent judgments about media content.

Media literacy is, first and foremost, a critical thinking skill which is applied to the source of most of the information we receive: the media.

2. An understanding of the process of mass communication

Media literacy requires an understanding of the production, transmission and context of interpretation involved in the mass communication process.

3. An awareness of the impact of the media on the individual and society

The media have revolutionized the way we think about ourselves, each other, and our world. The media have become a pervasive force in contemporary society, which is why the need for a media literate public is so acute.

4. The development of strategies with which to analyze and discuss media messages.

In order to become discerning consumers of media, individuals must learn to decipher the information they receive through the channels of mass communications.  These strategies also a framework that can facilitate the discussion of media content with others--including children, peers, and the people responsible for producing media programming.  

5. An awareness of media content as a “text” providing insight into our contemporary culture and ourselves

Media presentations (e.g., films, newspapers, television programs, or advertisements) can provide insight into the attitudes, values, behaviors, preoccupations, patterns of thought, and myths that define a culture. And conversely, an understanding of culture can furnish perspective into media messages.

6. The cultivation of an enhanced enjoyment, understanding, and appreciation of media content

A well-produced media presentation can provide audiences with enormous benefit and pleasure. Media literacy should not detract from your enjoyment of programs. Indeed, critical interpretation should enhance your enjoyment and appreciation of media at its best: insightful articles, informative news programs, and uplifting films.

7. In the case of media communicators: the ability to produce effective and responsible media messages.

 In order to be successful, professionals in the field of media must demonstrate an awareness of the mass communication process, as well as a mastery of production techniques and strategies. But in order to truly improve the media industry, media communicators must also understand the challenges and responsibilities involved in producing thoughtful programming that serves the best interests of the public.
Barry Duncan. (2001) A Media Literacy Menu: Ingredients for Successful  Media Studies  
Photo: Stellan Skarsgård as Prof. Gerald Lambeau in Good Will Hunting (1997)