Gaining at least a basic understanding of the issues is crucial to getting civically engaged to impact them. Whether contacting elected officials, attending public meetings or casting votes, knowing about the issues you care about empowers you to take action. But knowing about the issues often requires utilizing media – digital, news media, TV, radio and so on. Some Utahns tell us that their greatest obstacle to greater civic engagement is trusting the media sources they must rely on to gain an understanding of the issues.
So how can you achieve greater trust in media in order to get informed and empowered to take meaningful action? By building up your media literacy skills.
What is media literacy?
Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication.
Some people shy away from media literacy because of misconceptions that media are harmful or that media literacy is a special skill that requires too much effort or memorization of facts. Really, media literacy can be as simple as processing information using questions like:
- Who created this message?
- What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?
- How might people understand this message differently from me?
- What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?
- Why is this message being sent?
Why does media literacy matter?
Media literacy gives you the skills you need to find the answer to these questions as well as the big, haunting question so many people face today: “What information can I truly trust?”
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Bone up on your media literacy skills through a simple internet search, reading books or watching educational videos, such as the 12 videos in Crash Course’s free Media Literacy Series, starting with this introduction video: