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‘Media Literacy Week’ aims to strengthen media-navigating skills

Lara Hamdan
St. Louis Public Radio
Gateway Media Literacy Partners members, Mary Pat Gallagher (left) and Natasha Casey (right), talk about the importance of media literacy and issues of inclusion.

Gateway Media Literacy Partners is hosting its 12th annual Media Literacy Week. The events of the week encourage community conversations to help audiences evaluate what they see or hear in the media.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh talked to Gateway Media Literacy Partners members Mary Pat Gallagher, founder and executive director of Lolly’s Place, and Natasha Casey, professor of English and Communications at Blackburn College, about the importance of media literacy and issues of inclusion.

Q:The theme for this week is “Inclusion in a connected world.” What does that have to do with media literacy?

Gallagher: We are all connected in so many ways. We see things that happen, not only in our own neighborhoods, but all over our world. Being able to navigate those digital devices and those screens are so important. Especially now.

Casey: It’s a good think to think about, “What voices are left out of media? What voices are marginalized in media?” Some of the events we have coming up this week talk about that. For example, people with disabilities in the media are often marginalized, so that’s a voice we wanted to bring in.

Q: Everybody is reacting one way or another to fake news. Do you think this is helpful to the media literacy world?

Gallagher: We want to make sure what we’re seeing and what we’re hearing is credible and how do we navigate that, how to figure that out, and especially how to teach children to do that.

Q: How do we figure [fake news] out?

Casey: There is no quick answer. That’s one of the things with the fake news drama. I don’t think it’s reasonable to think that everybody is going to scroll through their twitter feed and fact-check everything that comes over it. But can you instill in students ways to be critically analyzing systematically? Yes you can.

Q: We often think about the consumers of news, but the people who are producing it often times have a lot to learn about the things they’re writing about as well. That’s part of media literacy too, isn’t it?

Casey: Absolutely. We never stop learning about that, because that language is always evolving — whether we’re talking about people with disabilities or other historically marginalized groups.

Q: When should these skills start being taught?

Gallagher: After children are two, I think it’s totally developmentally appropriate for them to learn how to use screens the right way. You sit side by side with them and you do it. You model what you want the kids to do. It’s called “co-view.”

Q: Do you see any improvement in terms of the way people are responding and are evaluating what they see and hear?

Gallagher: I do. I think there’s more awareness and more people really pausing and thinking “Is that really true?” I think people now know a little bit better about where to go to get that background information.

Casey: Media literacy is not a panacea to all our problems in the world. But getting people to ask the questions a dig a little bit deeper is the key to any healthy democracy.

Events during Media Literacy week are free and open to the public.

Listen as Casey and Gallagher discuss what media literacy consists of:

Related Event:

What: Gateway Media Literacy Partners 2017 Media Literacy Week "Inclusion in a Connected World"
When: November 5-8, 2017
Where: Various locations

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards,Alex Heuer and Lara Hamdan give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Lara is the Engagement Editor at St. Louis Public Radio.
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