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HomeMedia Literacy

What is Media Literacy? 

"The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) defines media literacy as “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create and act using all forms of communication. In its simplest terms, media literacy builds upon the foundation of traditional literacy and offers new forms of reading and writing. Media literacy empowers people to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.”

Media literacy encompasses learning about multiple genres of media, including journalism, entertainment (films, music, television), persuasive (advertising, promotion), and propaganda. In this guide, we focus primarily on news literacy, although it must be acknowledged that there is tremendous overlap between these areas.

We posit that a media-literate adult should be able to access, share and create media across multiple formats and platforms while utilizing critical thinking skills to evaluate the purpose and potential impact of the material." 

 Media Literacy in the Library: A guide for library practitioners

Links to more resources on Media Literacy

Why is Media Literacy important to the League of Women Voters?

Media Literacy is vital for empowering voters and defending democracy. For over 100 years the League of Women Voters has worked to inform and educate voters. In the beginning the League knew that the thousands of newly enfranchised women needed information on voting and information on the issues and candidates on the ballot. 

Today we recognize that all voters need reliable, non-partisan information to make decisions on issues and candidates. 

The first step the League takes before establishing a position on a policy decision is to compile a “Facts and Issues” document. We ask what are the key facts and what are the issues for the different stakeholders.  This is the same methodology we should each use before deciding to share information or deciding to support or oppose a policy or candidate.

Journalism Ethics and Standards

So much of media literacy is about what to look for and what to avoid. As consumers we can look for sources in print, online, on television or radio that adhere to a code of standards and ethics. There are a variety of these but most rely on the principles established by the Society of Professional Journalists.

"The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

  • Seek Truth and Report It
  • Minimize Harm
  • Act Independently
  • Be Accountable and Transparent"


Links to more resources on Journalism Ethics and Standards

Oh Democracy

A song and animation with a solid message on how to help our democracy survive and thrive.


Thanks to the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County, WA!

"Social media ain't the news; it's a tricky beast, don't feed it."

Evaluate the Source

Each website and social media user creates content and it becomes the consumer's responsibility to discern what is important to them and use critical thinking to evaluate the source.

  • The first website appeared just 30 years ago, on August 6, 1991. Today there are over 1.8 billion websites. 
  •   “Our latest data shows that there are 4.33 billion social media users around the world at the start of 2021, equating to more than 55 percent of the total global population.”

The volume of cat videos, product recommendations, fundraising posts, news, opinions, and more can be overwhelming. But before you share or base a decision on anything you see, take some time to analyze and evaluate the content. 

1.  What is the source of the content and who is the original author?

2.  What is the purpose or motive of the source?

3.  Do the headlines match the content?

4.  Is the information current?

5  Can facts and statistics be verified by other sources?

6.  What citations or references support the author's claims?

7.  Is it fact or opinion?

8. Do the authors leave out important facts or alternative perspectives?

Links to more resources on evaluating sources

Beware of Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias is the tendency to look for information that supports, rather than rejects, one’s preconceptions, typically by interpreting evidence to confirm existing beliefs while rejecting or ignoring any conflicting data. (American Psychological Association).

  • Confirmation bias is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their existing beliefs or hypotheses.
  • Confirmation bias happens when a person gives more weight to evidence that confirms their beliefs and undervalues evidence that could disprove it.
  • People display this bias when they gather or recall information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way.
  • The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched belief
  • Noor. I (2020, June 10) Confirmation bias. Simply Psychology.

Links to more resources on filter bubbles

Look beyond your Filter Bubble

When you first think about algorithms personalizing and curating your online experience, it can sound like a good thing. With so much information online, you couldn’t consume it all, even if you had all the time in the world. Besides, each of us has specific interests, so why not focus on content we’ll probably like?

The problem is that these algorithms can put you in a filter bubble, a term coined by Internet activist Eli Pariser. Being in a filter bubble means these algorithms have isolated you from information and perspectives you haven’t already expressed an interest in, meaning you may miss out on important information.

For instance, a social media site may hide posts from friends with different viewpoints, or a news site may display articles it thinks you’ll agree with. You may not even realize you’re in a filter bubble because these algorithms don’t ask for your permission, tell you when they’re active, or say what they’re keeping from you.


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Photo attribution:  Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Content attribution: League of Women Voters of the Comal Area

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