Ohio Journalist

New media’s impact on media literacy

By Megan Krause

The current media climate calls for increased media literacy among the public to protect citizens from unreliable information and to act as quality control for news media. However, as McManus illustrated, journalists are not exempt from the pressure to buff up their literacy. They need to increase their new media knowledge by mastering the newest technology and preventing a growing digital divide between themselves and their readers.

John McManus, founder of gradethenews.org, discusses the impact of new media on media literacy at the 2010 Schuneman Symposium

Within the journalism community, professionals accept general ethical standards concerning truth and public service, according to the Society of Professional Journalists ethics code. The problem is that the public does not recognize junk journalism, McManus said. Without ethical accountability, news organizations will continue to follow ratings and ignore bitter diatribe from readers. While good journalism is still alive and well, McManus said journalists need to reverse the decline of news quality.

As new media outlets continue to grow, traditional journalism steams on the back burner and makes choices based on advertising dollars. Still, the money moves online, where there are few restrictions and endless opportunities. The web is the best platform journalists have had thus far for producing quality content, McManus said.

This proposed format for curriculum will hopefully build digital citizens who will be active consumers of new media formats, and, therefore, more media literate. Meanwhile, journalists are learning the same skills. Within the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism itself, administrators and faculty are already adapting the curriculum to best train future journalists to thrive in the new media environment.

The evolving journalist
Adapting to new media is not a onetime action. Technology will continue to change and media literacy will evolve with it. Media literacy implies that journalists need the ability to learn new skills and apply them in useful ways.

No matter their age, it is important for media experts to understand the platforms that will be second nature to the next generation. News organizations must utilize high-quality platforms to tell stories well and to catch the attention of a media-savvy audience. A digital divide between journalists and readers ultimately leads readers to search elsewhere for information.

The mission of educators across the country- as well as McManus – is to teach critical thinking and to hold media to new standards. The challenge to the public, then, is to be critical information gatherers and recognize that not everything on the tube or the Internet is news.

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