"It is time to recognize that the true tutors of our children are no longer the school teachers and university professors, but the filmmakers, advertising executives and pop culture purveyors. Disney does more than Duke, Spielberg outweighs Stanford, MTV trumps MIT."
Much of the last century saw us strive to learn to read and write to become a literate society. Now, the mass of technology we can access to absorb, take part in and create communications means our literacy faces new challenges. Whether off- or online, we need to understand how media is made, who the author is and if there might be a hidden agenda lurking somewhere below the surface. Learning and continuing to develop these skills enable us to discriminate between fact, fiction and opinion. In short, to stay informed as citizens of an information society. This is what we think of as media literacy.
Others have provided more concise definitions:
"the ability to access, analyse and respond (critically) to, and benefit from, a range of media"
"the ability to access, understand and create communications in a variety of contexts"
"the ability to appraise critically, and assess the relative value of, information from different sources, and gain competencies in understanding the construction, forms, strengths and limitations of screen based content"
So then, why are media companies interested?
The proliferation of ways to access media messages mean we can easily reject any we don't trust. Therefore the authors and carriers of these messages need to convince us of their integrity: that they are well researched and factually correct. They have a big stake in improving society's media literacy.
This website was set up by the Media Corporate Social Responsibility Forum - a group of organisations working to develop social responsibility and environmental sustainability for the media sector. You can find more information about the forum here: mediacsrforum.org
As with all things media-related, the world is moving fast. Please let us know about things you've found about the subject, things you would like to know and if you have anything to say about what is on this site.