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Why should feminists care about media literacy?

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Media play a major role in shaping our perception of ourselves and the world in which we live. It is therefore crucial that feminists deal with media messages and their insidious effects. According to the Center of Media Literacy, media literacy provides a framework for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, participating and creating media messages in a variety of forms: from print to video to the internet. Media messages are created by people, which makes every medium inherently a carrier of numerous assumptions and prejudices.

Movies, TV shows, magazines, newspapers, Instagram filters, etc. carry messages about gender, race, sexuality, class, caste, and religion within them. Deciphering this message is essential in our common struggle for more social justice. To become media literacy therefore means to decipher the signs, symbols and language of our media. Some key concepts that underline media literacy are as follows.

All media are constructed

The media designer is not an anti-social being, he is just as embedded in society as the rest of us. It is therefore important to know that a media professional’s social location affects his reporting / content. For example, an able-bodied journalist reporting on disability rights may lack the nuance and depth of knowledge that comes from personal experience reporting the subject.

Aside from that, Sometimes it is not enough just to be aware of the authorship of a particular media message; often it is necessary to dig deeper to create more clarity. Of course, there is no media message. A team of professionals comes together to create / construct messages. In this process of media construction, decisions are made based on certain editorial choices. When some words are spoken, others are cut out; after viewing hundreds of images, only a few make it into the last segment; if a story ends in a certain way, it means that other possible endings have either not been considered or rejected. All in all, we as viewers only see what was accepted! But no one explains on what basis the refusals were made.

Media messages use their creative language to convey information

The format of a media message can tell us a lot about the intentions that motivate the message. Multiple creative components such as sound, color, music, movement, and camera angles are used in the process of message construction to psychologically manipulate viewers in order to arouse predetermined emotions. Different colors create different feelings, close-up camera shots convey intimacy and creepy music increases fear. Being aware of this creative language can reduce our susceptibility to such messages and increase our appreciation for the creative process.

Also read: Why is there still little media coverage of violence against disabled women?

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No medium is ever completely neutral or neutral

Media houses spend a lot of time making news appear “real” and “neutral”, but they never quite succeed. All messages, for example, are valuable and convey the message of what is important and what is not. The importance of news here means that mainstream media, which includes television news, movies, and songs, often reinforce and reinforce the existing social system for profit reasons. In this climate, new ideas can be difficult to get airtime on, especially if they challenge existing beliefs or assumptions.

If we keep this message in mind while consuming the news or other media, we can become astute observers of mediated bias and make better decisions. This is an extremely important skill for citizens in a democracy. Naming and recognizing missing perspectives is also an important skill that we have to acquire.

Also read: In conversation with Khabar Lahariya: The first All Women Rural Media …

Most media are created for profit

Most of the world’s media emerged as money-makers and is still mainly driven by commercial interests today. The very purpose of a television show or magazine article is to create an audience whose attention the publisher can use to sell space and time to advertisers. Media scholars refer to this phenomenon as “renting eyeballs”. With democracy under threat around the world, it is important that we as media consumers know who is sponsoring our news in particular and hold both news channels and their advertisers accountable for any misinformation.

Source: Center for Media Literacy


About the authors)

Pritha recently completed her Masters in Women’s Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. Scientifically, she is particularly interested in questions of reproductive justice, crime theory and contemporary feminist activism. In her spare time, she loves to paint with watercolors and watch art tutorials.

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