National Media Literacy Week comes to Boise State

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While media literacy is an international and national issue, it’s also an Idaho issue. In Twin Falls, Idaho, a local newspaper Times News, reported Russian involvement in an anti-refugee Facebook event in town–receiving major backlash by titling them as fake news. Later on, a report on a sexual assault conducted by three boys was misconstrued by other “news” websites and organizations–accusing Syrian refugees of rape–which was false.

Matt Christensen, the editor of Twin Fall’s Times News, will be speaking about his experience with the fake news for the third annual Media Literacy Week. He will talk on Nov. 9 in the Student Union Building’s Jordan D Ballroom at 7 p.m.  

This week is put on by the National Association for Media Literacy Education, and it will make its first appearance at Boise State Nov. 6 through 10. Boise State—one of the many colleges hosting Media Literacy Week this year—will be geared toward educating students on how to be media literate.

Therese Woozley, a graduate teaching assistant, stated that despite the current focus on media literacy, many individuals are unaware of what being media literate is.

“A lot of people think that, because they use media, they are media literate. That’s where people get a little bit confused,” Woosley said. “Because you can use Facebook, Twitter and all this social media or are fluent in how to operate and navigate things online doesn’t mean you are actually analyzing what you come across.”

According to Woozley, the week is focused on students becoming critical thinkers instead of passive consumers of media.

“The point of the week is so people can think deeper about the media they are consuming, be critical of what they see year-round and understand that media is socially constructing our reality right now,” Woosley said. “It’s creating our society. It’s creating our culture. And everything we see, every advertisement, every tweet affects our perspective and how we see the world and how we treat others.”

According to Jessica Roberts, a communication professor, Christensen’s narrative is important due to the current and ongoing critique of journalism as well as the rise of misinformation via the internet.

“I think what’s difficult about both teaching journalism and doing journalism now is the challenge of trying to cover the facts in a very partisan environment,” Roberts said. “(Christensen) brings up those issues, and what they faced as journalists–where their goal was to determine the truth–and they were perceived to be biased one way or the other by their readers.”

Sponsored by Idaho Media Initiative, Media Literacy Week will also be hosting a film screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind” documentary that features Israel’s public relations war in the United States at 7 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the Boise State Special Events Center. The event will be free, but for those who cannot attend, free copies will be available at the Albertsons Library, according to Woozley.

“This film analyzes news media’s coverage of the Israeli-Palestine conflict,” Woozley said. “It really gives us a different perspective that most of us are not familiar with–unless you’ve been out of the country, unless you get a different form of media. Because our U.S. media doesn’t show all the perspectives, they show the U.S. interest.”

Media Literacy Week will be hosting a pop-up newsroom activity in the quad Nov. 6 through 10, which allows students the chance to become journalists through their smartphones–removing the constraints of the traditional newsroom. Individuals can participate by using hashtags #MediaLitWk and #BeMediaLit on photos, videos and text.

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