MEDIA LITERACY 101: VII. Media Have Values

Subject: Digital Literacy
Grade Level: All
Source: Cable in the Classroom

The people and companies that create media messages have their own values, opinions, and biases. These beliefs can influence what stories are told and how they are told. A writer's personal beliefs influence how he portrays certain people and situations. And no matter how hard a reporter or editor ties to be objective, her own values shape what she considers important and how she will present information. There are no neutral or value-free media messages.

Explore the underlying values: When studying literature, we usually discuss the author's background, experiences and beliefs as a way of understanding what shaped their writing. To understand the messages of modern media, it is important to consider similar questions. Look beyond the plot and examine the values underneath the story. How are sex roles, race, work, religion, education, and government portrayed? Are the characters' behaviors reinforcing or undermining the values you want to instill in your children or students?

In Print or Online
Have your students or children closely examine some of the teen-oriented magazines, like Teen People and YM, online, or at the library.
  • What values and attitudes are reflected in the images and words in their pages and on these sites?
  • How do these values and attitudes help establish the identity or “personality” of a brand name?


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