Feb 03, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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Paul Mihailidis and Renee Hobbs discuss role of media literacy in uniting a divided America

Media Academy Program Director and Fellow both speak to Slate Renee Hobbs and Paul Mihailidis speaking at Salzburg Global Seminar

How can media literacy education help unite the USA, bitterly divided since the recent presidential election? This was a question explored by Salzburg Media Academy Program Director Paul Mihailidis and Salzburg Global Fellow Renee Hobbs in a recent article for Slate titled "How to Inform a More Perfect Union".

The article's author, Dana Goldstein, asks whether a push for media literacy and civics education could unite conservatives and liberals in the fight against fake news.

As part of her article, Goldstein explores how Mihailidis analyzed the attitudes of students at the University of Maryland in a study which took place in 2013.

Mihailidis, an associate professor at Emerson College, sampled students who were enrolled in a media literacy course and some of those who were not.

The study found those who took the course were better able to critically analyze media sources. However, some of these students remained negative in their outlook, with certain comments raising concerns this could to a distrust of reliable organizations.

Mihailidis says media literacy education needs to introduce examples of how the media can create positive change, as well as critique. 

Speaking to Slate, he says, "Media Literacy is now being seen as a panacea or solution."

Renee Hobbs, director of the Media Education Lab at the University of Rhode Island, attended the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change as a faculty member in 2012.

Speaking to Slate, she explains how the origin of the media literacy movement can be traced back to the early 1940s.

She adds media literacy education has "corrected misinformation and dealt with the question of whether media messages can and do tell the truth. That has always been fundamental."

To read the full article on Slate, please click here.

The Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change is an annual three-week summer seminar which brings together more than 70 students across the world to explore the media's role in social and global change.

This year the Academy will focus on Voices Against Extremism: Media Responses to Global Populism