Chart 2. The experts attitude to variants of definitions of media literacy

N Definitions of Media Literacy: Numbers of experts, who basically agree with the given definition: Numbers of experts, who basically disagree with the given definition:
Media literacy proponents contend that the concept an active, not passive user: The media-literate person is capable recipient and creator of content, understanding sociopolitical context, and using codes and representational systems effectively to live responsibly in society and the world at large [International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 14 / Eds.N.J.Smelser & P.B.Baltes. Oxford, 2001, p.9494]. 17(57,69%) 6(23,08%)
Media literacy, the movement to expand notions of literacy to include the powerful post-print media that dominate our informational landscape, helps people understand, produce, and negotiate meanings in a culture made up of powerful images, words, and sounds. A media-literate person everyone should have the opportunity to become one can decode, evaluate, analyze, and produce both print and electronic media [Aufderheide, P., Firestone, C. Media Literacy: A Report of the National Leadership Conference on Media Literacy. Queenstown, MD: The Aspen Institute, 1993, p.1.]. 16 (61,54%) 6(23,08%)
Definition for media literacy: the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and communicate messages in a variety of forms [Kubey, R. Media Education: Portraits of an Evolving Field. In: Kubey, R. (Ed.) Media Literacy in the Information Age. New Brunswick & London: Transaction Publishers, 1997, p. 2]. 12(46,15%) 9(34,61%)

As we can see, there is a rather even distribution of voices between the three definitions of media literacy. Some experts proposed other definitions:

-media literacy as the result of media education is the ability to adequately percept, interpret, evaluate and create media texts (V.Monastyrsky);

-Multimedia literacy. More immediate objectives of multimedia literacy include: to provide knowledge of the languages that shape interactive multimedia documents and the way they are constructed; to provide knowledge and use of the most prevalent devices and techniques for processing information; to provide knowledge and facilitate the assessment of the social and cultural implications of new multimedia technologies; to foster an attitude of critical media reception and responsible behaviour in the public sphere (A.Gutierrez Martin).

To be media literate is to have an informed and critical understanding of the nature, techniques and impact of the mass media as well as the ability to create media products (J.Pungente).

As we see, the boundary between the media education and media literacy sometimes is rather blur both in the definitions included into the chart and in the expanded answers of the experts. Since these terms are often substituted with each other, by our third question we tried to find out if the experts see the difference in such commonly used notions as media education, media literacy and media studies?

As the result it turned out that just 2 respondents (B.McMahon, B.Wei) do not differentiate these terms, while the rest of them think that:

-a matter of contextdepends on how the term is used and toward what purposes (R.Cornell);

-Media education is the process of teaching about print, electronic and digital media. Although media studies has been used to distinguish itself from media education, the difference seems doctrinaire, artificial and inconsequential to the understanding of media teaching and learning. Media literacy implies the complex outcome of literacy. It is an imprecise and confusing term and does little to define the field. I prefer media education (K.Tyner);

-media education is a cross-curricular/trans-curricular approach to be taken up in each subject; media literacy refers to an overall ability/competence; media studies is a discipline in its own right whose topic are media and all the implications connected to them (S.Krucsay);

-media education is basically an educational approach to media it is more comprehensive, media literacy is basically alphabetization to visual codes. Media studies are linked with the knowledge of mass media for technical, political, social, or educational or different purposes (M.Reyes Torres);

-Media education includes media studies and media literacy (N.Ryzhih, I.Chelysheva, J.I.Gomez);

-Media literacy is the result of the process of media education, media literacy is the intended outcome of media education (S.Penzin, V.Gura, A.Korochenskyi, V.Monastyrsky, T.Shak, Ch.Worsnop, J.Pungente, L.Rother, D.Suess);

-Media studies is the main way to practical mastering of media facilities (V.Monastyrsky);

-media studies are less normative than media education, it can be a more descriptive approach to media (D.Suess);

-media studies is focussed on the acquisition of cognitive knowledge about media. Media education is focussed on the development of attitudes and critical skills about media. Media Literacy includes the basics of Media Studies and Media Education to provide the student with the ability to participate freely in the society (A.Gutierrez Martin);

-media literacy and media studies often implies the critical analysis of media but not the production, whereas media education usually embraces both analysis and production (S.Goodman).

There are both the common stands and certain disagreement, blending of the essence of the terms media education, media literacy and media studies in the answers of the experts. In this sense the most expanded answer to the problem was given by the Canadian media educator I.Rother: Over the last decade the terms Media Education, Media Studies and Media Literacy have been used almost interchangeably by media educators in North America, Britain and Australia. The following distinctions have been adapted from Silverblatt (1995); Masterman (1985); Worsnop (1994); Buckingham (1993); Lusted (1991); Moore (1991); Media Education in Britain: An Outline (1989):

Media Education includes:

-using media across the curriculum application;

-a topic within another subject;

-develops critical understanding of media through analytical and practical work

-includes teaching about the forms, conventions and technologies;

-includes teaching about media institutions, and their social, political and cultural roles;

-places emphasis upon student's experience of the media and their relevance to their own lives;

-themes and project work;

-borrows from audio-visual literacy and English Language/Arts North American influence.

Media Studies includes:

-a cross-media application;

-a theoretical application of the media;

-a conceptual framework;

-incorporates analysis of a message delivered by the media and the techniques used to create that message;

-borrows from communication, film and cultural studies;

-British, Australian and European influence.

Media Literacy builds on the following outcomes of Media Education and media studies:

-an awareness of the impact of media on the individual and society;

-an understanding of the process of mass communication;

-the ability to analyse and discuss media messages;

-an awareness of media context as a text that provides recognition of culture;

-production and analysis skills;

-traditional and non-traditional literacy skills;

-an enriched enjoyment, understanding and appreciation of media content.

Media Literacy: Teaching Through/About Media. There has also been confusion about teaching through media and teaching about media. Duncan (1993) states that teaching through the media, while concerned with the language of media, primarily focuses on using media as a vehicle to initiate discussion or as a motivator for Language Arts classes. In other words, in teaching through the media, teachers use the media as a delivery system for subject content. No attempt to examine the delivery system itself is made.

In teaching about the media, the delivery system, i.e. the medium and the message, are examined. Teaching about the media stems from the notion that media shape the world in which we live and therefore it is becoming increasingly important for students to understand the infrastructures of society. Media Education explores the media within a sociopolitical framework through analysis and production. This includes preparing students to understand the production and dissemination of information, the growth of media industry, the development of commercially based media, the role of advertising, and audience negotiation of print and non-print text(I.Rother).

We share the opinion of Ch.Worsnop, V.Gura, V.Monastyrsky, A.Korochensky, J.Pungente, S.Penzin, I.Rother, D.Suess, T.Shak and others who consider that media literacy is the intended outcome of media education. However, we also pay attention to the opinion of D.Lemish who says that originally there was a difference, with media education being more a wider concept and media literacy perceived as being more a specific translation of critical analysis of media. Media studies was more an academic term for theoretical studies. I think today it is almost impossible and unnecessary to separate between them. Therefore in my mind today they are interchangeable, and it is not beneficial to try to theoretically make a distinction. This is also the reason why I accepted all of the above definitions of media education and media literacy because I think they are either complementary or saying the same thing in different ways. It does not seem to me to be critical to agree on a very specific definition of such a wide field (D.Lemish).


  1. A. Look at the pie-chart and say whether other search service providers operate in the Russian market. Do you check their ads more than once?
  2. A. Match professions with their definitions.
  4. American Mass Media
  5. Are the electronic media exacerbating illiteracy and making our children stupid? On the contrary, says Colin McCabe, they have the potential to make us truly literate.
  6. Article 1 Definitions and Principles of Interpretation
  7. B) Persuade your partner to start practising sport immediately.
  8. B. Match the definitions with the italicized words and phrases from the text.
  9. B. Match the words with their definitions.
  10. B. Match the words with their definitions.
  11. B. Read the text and match the highlighted words to their definitions.
  12. Behavior and attitudes

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Chart 1. The experts attitude to variants of definitions of media education | The Main Media Educational Purposes

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