Nowadays, media is a way of communication, a source of knowledge and education. Journalism and media should be forward to qualified information gathering and to the distribution of facts. However, today we observe rather opinions than facts. It happens because of the overabundance of information resources and easy access to social media where everyone has the opportunity to share his/her opinion. The paradox is that in order to reduce time of news searching people listen to and really on the several opinion bullhorns. Undoubtedly, they not only help you to understand news in detail but also they inflict you with their own opinions, just satisfying your confirmation bias and thought patterns. In the worst case, they may even desinformate you. In order to analyze media content personally, develop critical thinking and search skills we need media literacy. 

In this article Nota Bene Journal will tell you:

  • What media literacy is and how to eat use it on a daily basis;
  • How media controls your opinions and actions (spoiler by biases); 
  • Hints how to recognize fake news. 

What is media literacy

People are bombarded with messages whether online, on television or in newspaper. Media literacy explains how messages can be interpreted, what is their purpose and effect on people’s minds and decisions. 

Media literacy is an ability to read, evaluate, analyze and create media messages. (( National Association for Media Literacy Education ))


The main idea of media literacy is fact-checking of information that you consume and not to trust media blindly. So, you should search for different resources of information to be fully aware of the situation to create your own opinion on an issue. Use the media as a tool for information and not a basis to make decisions specifically on somebody else’s thoughts. 

The easiest and the most effective way to analyze media messages is to ask the right questions. These 5 questions will help you to understand the real purpose of a media message and to decide whether it is reliable or not: 

  1. Who created this message? 
  2. Which techniques (bright pictures, catchy headings, rhetoric of program’s host, etc.) were used to attract my attention? 
  3. How might other people understand or interpret this message differently from me?
  4. What points of view and values are included or omitted from this message? Think about what organization could create or pay for the message.
  5. Why was this message sent?

Media literacy teaches you to think critically about the information. Such skills as asking relevant questions, exploring multiple viewpoints, making decisions personally are important not only for media literacy but also for your daily life. 

Media Bias

Now let’s talk about bias — a fact that information is not correct because of the method used in collecting or presenting it (( Cambridge Dictionary )). If the message shows news, an opinion about something that is not based on all of the facts it is biased. Bias usually occurs when the media supports or attacks a particular political party, candidate, or ideology. Also, it is a systematic error in the field of science and technology.

There are 3 main types of media bias: 

  • Bias by omission: avoiding coverage of a story; one-sided story (only one point of view is presented); 
  • Bias by placement: unimportant message on important place, for example, entertainment message is on the 1st page of a newspaper while a really important news is on the last page, so most of the people do not see it;
  • Bias by spin (( Spin in media — giving a positive or negative point of view about a subject in order to change the opinion of the audience )) come from pundits or from using words with negative/positive connotation.

If bias is correctly recognized it can be easily overcomed.

Remember staying away from information that does not align with your attitude is a huge mistake as you  probably have incomplete picture of the world, can easily get cheated and create echo chamber

How can I  become media literate and recognize fake news

  1. Ask questions that we introduced above and think critically;
  2. Determine which bias is used  
    • If you see bias by omission, ask what point of view were omitted from the message and use several media resources;
    • If it is bias by placement, think about the importance of the message for you or society in the current time. Only you (not media) decide which articles and reports to consume;
    •  If it is bias by spin, ask weather this message want you to have a positive or negative opinion about the topic. Search for facts not opinions, check qualification of the pundit who gives his/her opinion on a problem, he/she may be a fake export. 
  3. If such techniques as appeal to the majority, irrelevant reference to the experience of others (e.g.: Everything is bad there. Comparing with them, here everything is good.) are used it is a great chance that it is a fake news.  

Try to adhere the principles of media literacy: find relevant and credible resources, fact-check it and share verified information.

In 2020 we must be especially responsible for media consumption and distribution of the news!

Автор: Мария Кучеренко

Редактор: Элен Гаврилова

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