Saint Vincent’s communication department is partnering with MediaSmarts and the Canadian Teachers’ Federation to present Media Literacy Week.
According to Media Literacy’s official website, “The week puts a spotlight on the importance of digital and media literacy as a key component in the education of children and young people.”
Nov. 6 to 10, 2017 marks the third annual National Media Literacy Week and the first year of Saint Vincent’s participation. The campus events are arranged and hosted by Dr. Jessica Harvey, assistant professor of communication; Sydney Schoff, junior communication major; and Ellen DeSimone, senior communication major. The graphic design of the advertising posters was done by Maria Dellera, a senior communication major.
Harvey spoke of the nationwide objective of Media Literacy Week.
“The goal is to highlight the power of media education in a central role today. One of the concerns of those interested in media literacy are how important it is that young people are educated about the media. Especially in this day and age, they should be taught to become more critical of their social media use through familiarity with topics such as gender stereotypes, the lack of racial diversity, violent media and the effects of advertising. They’re encouraging organizations and schools to get involved with studying media literacy, ‘the ability to access, analyze, evaluate community and create using all forms of communication,’” Harvey said.
Harvey also explained her history with the event.
“This is something I did when I lived in Seattle,” Harvey said. “I’ve been a member, engaged and presented research at the last two National Association of Media Literacy Education conferences, one this summer in Chicago and the other two years ago in Philadelphia.”
Media Literacy Week began on Monday, Nov. 6 night with the screening of “Straight/Curve,” a film concerning body image. An electronic media fast followed on Wednesday from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Harvey expanded on the film, the media fast and plans for the rest of Media Literacy Week.
“The film that we’re showing on Monday night is one of a variety that different colleges and schools are doing across the country,” Harvey said.
“For the fast, we’re encouraging faculty, staff and students to give up electronic media and do whatever they want to do for one hour. Walk outside, talk to people face to face, read a book, something that’s not related to electronic media. We’re also going to be hosting different media facts on our Facebook page and distributing them around campus throughout the week. Ellen DeSimone and Sydney Schoff will be doing a video about media literacy week on our campus too.”
The department of communication, the sociology department and Student Life co-sponsored the viewing of “Straight/Curve” on Monday night. Afterward, Saint Vincent College linked up to a live Q&A session at Fordham University with the film director and body image experts. Students were able to tweet questions they wanted to ask the people on the panel.
Harvey spoke of her personal goals concerning the entire event.
“I’m hoping to have it be something we can do every year on Saint Vincent’s campus. I also hope that it encourages people to think more critically about their media use, about others’ media use, about the content of the media that they’re engaging in, and that maybe it will generate interest in media literacy education,” Harvey said.
Schoff, president of MadComm, Saint Vincent’s communication club, elaborated on the need for media literacy.
“Media is inescapable today, making the need for us to understand the motives behind the media we consume to have a greater understanding of our world,” Schoff said. “Knowing this hopefully allows us to create constructive media ourselves.”
Schoff also spoke of the planning stages of Saint Vincent College’s first Media Literacy Week.
“It was difficult because Saint Vincent has never participated in Media Literacy Week before, but it was made easy by Dr. Harvey’s immense knowledge on the subject. It also helps that Dr. Harvey and Ellen and I work very well together,” Schoff said.
Schoff hopes that Media Literacy Week shows people how important the messages on media are.
“We have never had so many communicative tools at our fingertips, and the availability will only increase each passing day,” Schoff said. “These tools have such potential to be used for good and constructive things, rather than division and causing chaos. I hope that Media Literacy Week makes people understand that they have potential to do good. Because our society is surrounded by media 24/7, I hope that participating in Media Literacy Week will make people pay more attention to what they view as well as what they produce.”
DeSimone, also a member of MadComm, believes that media literacy is highly important for people in general.
“Every single person interacts with media every day of their life, whether we think about it or not, what with phones, music, and books. So, knowing how to engage in your media in a healthy, constructive way is vital because then you know how to prevent it from affecting you negatively,” DeSimone said.
DeSimone anticipates that Media Literacy Week will have a favorable result.
“I just hope that people who are a part of it walk away with a better understanding of media literacy and that it can positively affect at least one person,” DeSimone said.
Originating in Canada in 2006, Media Literacy Week is hosted annually in November by the National Association of Media Literacy Education, sponsored by TrendMicro, Nickelodeon, Twitter and Facebook.
Photo: SVC Flickr