Key Concept 3: #K12Media

28 Sep

Our special series of #K12Media chats will centre on Concept Three from the 8 Key Concepts of Media Literacy: Audiences negotiate meaning. Last week we discussed how media contribute to our understanding of reality. We explored the idea that the familiar spaces and places we inhabit influence how we perceive our reality, and what we feel we are able to do within it. We spoke about the construction of intersections, neighbourhoods, schools and even our virtual environments online. This week we’ll look at how WE negotiate meaning.

For a refresher on the concepts:

3. Audiences negotiate meaning

Media are constructions, and in turn, they can shape our reality, but there is more to the equation than that. We, as viewers, create impressions and opinions of the world around us based not only on the media we are exposed to, but also based on what we bring to the table. Our biases, personal experiences, socio-economic status, culture, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and more all contribute to how we make meaning out of a media text. In order to truly understand how we negotiate meaning from a media text, we need to better understand the intersectionality that informs our individual perspectives. We also need to confront the fact that the meaning of a text is not fixed, but rather negotiated by the individual.

Hot Topic One: Politics

Political campaigns are filled with media texts. Audiences often identify with a particular candidate or “side”, and much of the political advertising, coverage and debate caters to a political “base”. Individuals within that base make meaning from those media texts. Individuals outside of that base would understand those texts differently still. And what about the people left out of the discussion entirely? How might students who are not yet old enough to vote experience these kinds of texts? How is their view of the process different from our own?

Hot Topic Two: Gaming

Video games are incredibly rich and varied media texts. How does a player understand their role within the game? In some games, the choice of how the player is represented is limited or nonexistent, but in others the player can choose from a broad range of features, symbols, clothing, colouring and more to create an alter-ego within the gaming environment. How do players make meaning out of these characters? How might one person understand this kind of representation differently from another? What choices are rarely or never offered? Are some problematic, and if so, for who and why?

Hot Topic Three: “The Teenager”

The idea of “the teenager” recurs often in our media environments. How do we understand the concept of “the teenager”? What role do we expect the teen to play? How does the media image of “the teenager” get interpreted by a teenager? Which teen experiences are represented less often? How is the representation and discourse of “the teenager” understood by different audiences?