Monday, May 09, 2005

Information Literacy and the Media

According to the Association of College and Research Libraries' Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education, information literacy is defined as: "a set of abilities requiring individuals to 'recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.'" (This definition is originally from the American Library Association's Presidential Committee on Information Literacy's Final Report.)

We get a lot of our information from the various news media via the Web, TV, newspaper, and radio (e.g., The New York Times, Fox News, the Drudge Report, Google News, Minnesota Public Radio, etc.). As such, we must be able to evaluate this news critically. Is the news biased in any way? What assumptions do the editors, reporters, or journalists make? How might the media's reliance on advertising revenue in turn affect reporting? (Etc., etc., etc.)

I have found two public radio programs that have been helpful to me in analyzing the news media:

1) On the Media: "The weekly, one-hour program [that] is America's only national radio program devoted to media criticism and analysis."

2) Media Matters: Full disclosure: the show's host, Bob McChesney, is a research professor at my school, the University of Illinois.

You can listen to both of these shows online. Both Web sites have podcast feeds.



Barbara said...

What I find interesting is how little the communities that promote "media literacy" and "information literacy" communicate with each other!

Media literacy tends to start from the idea that we are bombarded by messages - and the audience needs to learn how to interpret the underlying economic and political forces shaping them. Audience as media victim. The information literacy standards start with identifying an information need, then going after sources that will satisfy it. No need for information, no need for literacy. There's a great article by Christine Pawley in Library Quarterly (73.4, 2003: 422-452) that unpacks what's missing and/or contradictory in the label "information literacy" and a lot of her critique deals with its leaving out the things media literacy highlights. At the same time, if you read things about media literacy, you rarely find libraries mentioned.

I could go on... and on... but I'll spare you :o)


Alec said...

Wow, Barbara, this looks like a great article. Thanks for the citation!

Alec said...

Doing some searching, I found some other articles that discuss the intersection between information and media literacies:

Jones, J. Media Madness. School Library Journal v. 50 no. 8 (August 2004) p. 32.

Dilevko, J. Bibliographic instruction and mass media news literacy: a theoretical background. The Library Quarterly v. 68 no. 4 (October 1998) p. 431-74.

Dilevko, J. Teaching news media practices in bibliographic instruction classes: a strategy involving framing and sourcing theory [mainstream vs. independent news]. Research Strategies v. 16 no. 1 (1998) p. 53-69.

Alec said...

Here are some more that I found:

Baker, Frank. 2004. "Media literacy: One of the new literacy skills for the 21st century." Ohio Media Spectrum 56, (1) (Fall): 39.

Dilevko, J., and K. Grewal. 1998. "Neutrality and media literacy at the reference desk: A case study." Journal of Academic Librarianship 24, (1) (Jan): 21-32.

Pungente, J. 1996. "Getting started on media literacy." Emergency Librarian 24, (2) (Nov-Dec): 9-11.

Barbara said...

Alec, thanks for these references. Two of the sessions I went to at WILU had to do with integrating media literacy into information literacy. One was at U of Illinois, building a tutorial for finding and critiquing global news for a first year experience involving thousands of students. Dawn Schitz, a CLIR post-doc is designing it with Lisa Hinchliffe. The other was an overview and stirring call to be more engaged with social justice issues through media analysis presented by Lisa Sloniowski of York University. I'm going to track down some of these cites and start reading...