Get Media Literate! SCM Hosts Political Party to Honor Media Literacy Week

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How is it possible to be a truly informed citizen in the digital age? What’s the best way to engage yourself and others digitally in the upcoming election?

With perhaps the most debated and most media-intensive Presidential Election ever upon us, individuals (especially first-time and college voters), need to be media literate to make the best choice come November 8.

The School of Communication and Media (SCM), in partnership with the National Association for Media Literacy Education and Big Pictures Educational, will host a non-partisan “political party” on November 3, from 4:00-5:30 pm in 204 Morehead Hall, in commemoration of the 2nd annual National Media Literacy Week—a week dedicated to the importance of digital and media literacy as a key component in the education of children and young people.

The event will feature a screening of “We the Voters: 20 Short Films to Watch Before You Vote”, which will then be followed by an interactive panel and discussion.

Moderated by Dr. Vanessa Domine, with resident SCM panel members Dr. Marylou Naumoff (rhetoric and debate), Dr. Joel Penney (social media and politics), and Marc Rosenweig (television and digital media), participants will focus on taking a critical approach to media literacy and politics, with the goal of helping individuals become more informed and critically-minded students.

“The event is designed to help students understand the role of media in our democracy and our elections,” said Dr. Joel Penney. “We’re focusing on developing media literacy, which means the ability to evaluate the media that we encounter in our everyday environment—such as messages from politicians and journalists—and figure out how to make sense of them and use them for our own purposes.”

The event will screen two films, one addressing debate techniques and the other the use of social media during the election. By helping students understand these broader forces, the panel hopes students will make more informed decisions about finding well-rounded and diverse political information online.

“One of the takeaways of the [social media] film is that in order to be informed citizens, we have to look beyond the “echo chambers” of our like-minded friends and family in our social media networks, and seek out information that offers a different point of view or perspective,” says Penney. “This is really important, because research has shown that the internet and social media are contributing to polarization, or the separation of our country into two opposing political camps of ‘left’ and ‘right.’”

Dr. Marylou Naumoff has similar hopes for students, suggesting that voters could use social media during the final push towards election day to share their insights with others.

“We are hoping that students will gain tools they can use to critically unpack candidate messages and then feel motivated to be civically engaged,” says Naumoff. “Overall, we want students to be aware of their political agency and to act in the world… even beyond election day.”

The event is free and open to all SCM students and faculty. Space is limited to the first 30 participants. Arrive early to secure your space.

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