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YouthSpeaksOut! is a 60 minute public affairs program hosted by high school students in Mendocino County, California. This month's show covered media literacy, fake news, and podcasts.
Today's show was hosted by Ukiah High School students. The topic was "Media Literacy."The hosts were an 9th grade girl of European descent and 11th and 12th grade young men of North American descent. They spoke bout how they access media, such as Facebook and Instagram, and what they are learning about critically looking at the media. They are students in a Journalism class at Ukiah High taught by Matt LaFever. He is teaching a pilot program called "Checkology" which guides young people to understand what news is fake and what is real. They all produce podcasts and described how this media delivery system works. It was an excellent show.
Really worth hearing, and thinking about how the media landscape is changing. The audio files are at our website http://youthspeaksout.net/radioshows.html or by clicking links below. CDs are available upon request.
Welcome to “Youth Speaks Out!,” a show by, for, and about young people. It normally airs on the first Sunday of each month from 3 to 4 pm, and is hosted by young people in Mendocino County.
We want to create a place where young people can talk truthfully about important issues in our lives...and have a dialogue with the community of listeners.
Today’s hosts are me, Manny, with...(let others state their names). We are all students at Ukiah High School.
Today our topic is “Media Literacy.” Here we are, youth speaking on public radio, being part of the media. We are happy to do this and know that many listeners look forward to our shows. And because this is non-commercial radio, we will not take a break every 15 minutes to deliver you to an advertiser. We are able to do this because listeners, like you, support this broadcast by becoming members of KZYX. So please consider becoming a member if you have not already done so- you can join on the website kzyx.org or by calling 895-2324 during normal business hours.
Like we said, today our topic is “Media Literacy.” YouthSpeaksOut! has covered this subject 4 times in the past, beginning in 2003. For centuries, literacy has referred to the ability to read and write. Today, we get most of our information through an interwoven system of media technologies. The ability to read many types of media has become an essential skill in the 21st Century.
Media literacy is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media. Media literate youth and adults are better able to understand the complex messages we receive from television, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, books, billboards, video games, music, and all other forms of media. Media literacy could be defined as the ability to interpret and create personal meaning from the hundreds of verbal and visual symbols we take in each day- through all the aforementioned media sources, and especially advertising. It is the ability to choose and select, the ability to challenge and question, the ability to be conscious about what’s going on around you and not be passive or vulnerable. To become media literate is not to memorize facts or statistics about the media, but rather to raise the right questions about what you are reading, watching, or listening to.
The sources of media are rapidly changing- we have grown up with computers and the internet becoming the primary source for much of what radio, television, and newspapers use to deliver. Tablets, smartphones, and laptop computers have made it possible to always have the newest media wherever you are. At Ukiah High School we are given computers to use in the classroom and to take home. Our homework and tests are completed using these chromebooks and high-speed internet. Many college courses at Mendocino College are delivered through the internet. This is very different from 2003 when few schools, let alone homes, had access to fast internet connections. And the evolution of the smartphone and cellular towers has made web services available in most areas of our rural county, though compared to urban areas we are we are seriously behind the times for broadband delivery.
While this techo-magic has led us to a much larger quantity of media wherever we are, it has not always improved the quality or intent of what is delivered. The term “fake news” has been in the press a lot recently- even the President has accused one of the largest media sources on the planet, CNN, of being “fake news.” And during the last Presidential campaign many false stories were released to the public that may have influenced the election. Many point the finger at social media, like Facebook, as being the vehicle for deceptive stories, usually referred to as propaganda.
As a recent study from Stanford University shows, students at all education levels have trouble identifying sources and judging the credibility of the information they find online: Students had trouble differentiating be- tween news reporting and sponsored content on websites; they did not consistently check the sources of content shared via social media; and had trouble evaluating information retrieved in Google search results.
In other words, our future voters, jury members, and taxpayers lack the basic ability to determine truth from lies, just as we are entering a new era of dangerous propaganda from both government and private sources. Fake news is both politically useful and increasingly profitable.
Radio has been declining in use over the last few decades. Clearly, in rural areas like Mendocino County, radio is still very popular. Young people here in Mendocino County do listen to some radio, especially if their parents do, but not as much as our parents did when they were our age. Many youth do not own radios. And podcasts and downloading are our main sources for getting music and audio programming. Media has become a two-way street, and today’s hosts are involved in producing and uploading podcasts.
In English classes we are still reading books, an early form of media. Some books are assigned and some we get to choose from a list. Most of these books are over 20 years old, some are over a hundred years old. We know that we are assigned certain books to train us to analyze literature, but some seem less relevant today. Is it possible that the advent of the electronic book will alter the media that we now call literature?
We will begin this show by talking about how youth influence the media, and how the media influence youth. We will discuss our relationships with the web, television, radio, books, and magazines. Then we will speak a bit about what we have learned about “media literacy.” Media literacy could be defined as the ability to interpret the message each form of media is presenting us. Marshall McCluhan said, “The medium is the message,” meaning that information is altered by the form of the media that delivers it. This was a popular concept in the 1960’s- we would like to hear how you think it applies to today’s new forms of media, specifically the internet, cell phones, and texting.
When we open the phone lines in 40 minutes or so, we would like to hear from you about your relationship with the media, living in a rural, relatively remote area. How does media influence your life? If you have children, do you make a conscious effort to inform them of the ways in which the media attempts to manipulate them? How can you determine if a news story is fake or real?
Manny, what types of media do you use in your daily life?