“A critical thinking tool” - Art Silverblatt On Media Literacy

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Art Silverblatt, professor of media communications at Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, traveled to DePauw last Tuesday to present a lecture on media literacy. Silverblatt co-founded the Digital International Media Literacy Education program in 2013, which promotes universal media literacy education for young learners. 

Around the globe, the last week in October is known as Media Literacy week, a time in which media consumers, especially younger generations, are encouraged to open up conversations about the media we consume.

While learning how to responsibly receive messages and combat misinformation is important, there’s more at stake than one might think, Silverblatt emphasized in his lecture.

“Media literacy is a 21st century survival skill,” Silverblatt said. “If we're going to survive as a civilization, as a culture, as a democracy, we need to understand the messages that we're getting, then be prepared to act in response to it.” 

Jack Woods, senior Media Fellow and English major, sees danger in media illiteracy. 

“The internet is a giant book, right? And you got to know how to read it if you're going to be successful in this day and age because it's not just pen and paper anymore. I mean, there's so many different layers to technology and how it helps us now, so it is very important to be at least a little bit media literate, or at least media aware,” Woods said. 

“Media literacy isn't something you can just take from one seminar. It's a continued education and hopefully DePauw itself as an institution will take this and continue to educate students,” Woods added.

Victoria De Dios, senior, has had four years to study media literacy as a film major. Learning how to consume media responsibly is, however, not an opportunity presented to everyone at the university, according to De Dios. 

“I think setting a standard and maybe introducing [media literacy] during freshman year, and having a standard for DePauw students would be helpful,” De Dios said. 

She even observes that, among those immersed in social media, uncritical reception of biases and false information can have a negative effect on people, De Dios added.

Silverblatt is hopeful for college students at DePauw and elsewhere, but thinks there’s a lot at stake in a world where media literacy is more important than ever. According to Silverblatt, democracy, education, and even the economy depend on media literacy.

When it comes to post-graduation endeavors in a media saturated world, “[students] are going to be conducting their own lives,” he said. “What decisions they make, what they choose to do, who they choose to relate to, it's in their grasp, but they need to have the tools to do it.”