Media Illiteracy Explained

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

But not in the way you think.

“In the media-saturated societies of the Western world, it is important for media consumers to have some knowledge of the impact of media and the forces that influence media content,” Seth Ashley wrote in a conference paper in June of 2010. “Media illiteracy may present a danger to society if individuals are not properly equipped to evaluate and analyze the endless stream of media messages they receive.” Dr. Ashley joined the faculty of the Department of Communication at Boise State in 2011.

We asked Dr. Ashley, “In light of the media’s failure to question why the White House rejected 13 pleas for more security from the American embassy in Libya along with the virtual media blackout on stories ranging from the culpability for Fast and Furious to the failure, if not abuse, of green energy grants by politically connected companies like Solyndra, do you still think a root of journalism’s credibility crisis lies with the audience?”

“News media fail to ask many important questions, which is why audiences are better served if they understand the range of forces that influence media content,” Dr. Ashley stated. “It seems to me that all three of the examples you mention were actually widely reported, so if citizens are not aware of such issues, then yes, part of the problem seems to lie with the audience.”

Former Democratic pollster Pat Caddell delivered a blistering broadside on media coverage of the embassy attacks at a recent conference sponsored by our sister organization, Accuracy in Media. Accuracy in Media did find one reporter who covered both the Fast and Furious program and the Solyndra grant at CBS and was so impressed that AIM gave her an award.

“As reported in a recent posting, Accuracy in Media presented its annual Reed Irvine Media Awards for Investigative and Grassroots Journalism amidst a trumped up controversy reported in The Washington Post, Politico and Big Journalism,” Roger Aronoff, editor of Accuracy in Media wrote on February 11, 2012. “Awards were presented to Sharyl Attkisson of CBS News for her investigative reporting on Operation Fast and Furious as well as Solyndra and other ‘green energy’ projects in which the Obama administration has invested Americans’ taxpayer dollars; and Dana Loesch, Editor-in-chief of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism, for her tireless work as a grassroots journalist.”

“The pro-Democratic Party media watchdog, Media Matters, led the effort to browbeat Attkisson and CBS into backing out of accepting the award.”


Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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