Being Media Literate During the Election

People will not only believe everything they hear on TV or radio, but how they only hear the messages they want to hear or the parts of the message that back up their believes and ideas. It kills me on how media illiterate we have become. We take everything at face value, and we never delve beneath the surface. This leads to people being miss and under informed.

Any time you look at ANY media artifact (article, blog, TV show, website, radio show, advertisement…basically any piece of media), you need to be thinking critically. You need to know who made the artifact, what they stand for, what’s their angle, background and goal.

Even as you read this, before you take anything I say at face value, do you know who I am, what credibility I have, or what I am trying to accomplish? You need to know these things so you can evaluate the artifact properly and then assess its value and merit.

Yes, you need to not only look at *what* is being said, but also who is saying it and how it is being said. Media bias isn’t new by any stretch of the meaning, but when you here people touting something they read in the paper or hear on tv…or worse read on the internet as fact and then go about spreading the ideas as truth.

With the Presidential Election just around the corner, this is even more noticeable. At lunch one day a friend took offense to someone saying Obama is running some pretty “ugly” ads. He is running some rough ads, and so is McCain, but Obama’s “mud slinging” is a bit harsher and widespread than his.

The offended co-worker of course jumped to the defensive and started referring to ads that in fact are very harsh on Obama and saying they were McCain’s. Really they are not his. They are ads run by the Republican National Party not McCain’s campaign. One could easily assume they were McCain ads, but if you read the fine print at the end of the ad or listen carefully to the voiceovers, you are told who is actually responsible for the ad. Now, this really doesn’t make the situation better.

It is McCain’s party slinging the mud, but it is still being slung. I’m pretty much disgusted by all mud slinging. Both candidates are guilty of it. However, the facts prove that Obama has produced more negative ads against McCain than McCain has produced against him.

That simple fact should not have put my co-worker into defensive mode. Now, had she argued that yes, McCain didn’t air the ads, but he also has done nothing to speak out against them, that would be a different story. I would totally been interested to see what people had to say about that! Instead she made a faulty argument and most everyone at the table agreed with her, or just didn’t know enough to question her.

I’m not claiming to be perfect or not fall prey to this from time to time too, but I’m also pretty jaded in regards to the media and it is in my nature to pick things apart.

I guess I would rather have my facts straight than to just go off what the media feeds me. Maybe all those media studies classes just made me paranoid. However, I would rather be safe than sorry. Remember, media is a business.

In most cases, their main objective is to make money and further their own agendas! Figure out the facts and then make your own conclusions, and you wll be more informed and better off.

One reply on “Being Media Literate During the Election”

This is so right on. Media literacy should be a mandatory topic at schools. Take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt, there are always two sides to every story, or as Paul Harvey used to say “…the rest of the story.” With this in mind, it’s hard to take the Presidential debates seriously.

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