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College Freshmen: One Last Thing Before You Go…

Dear Freshmen,

Summer is winding down and you’re preparing for a new chapter in your life – college. The unknowns of the next four years are both scary and exciting. At graduation, you will be markedly different than you are today.

Regardless of what you decide to study, the media you consume will continue to mold your thoughts, beliefs and actions in your professional and personal lives. Armed with this information, you will set out to make important decisions, impacting the world and people around you.

This is where being media literate comes into play.

Similar to knowing how to read and write (literacy), media literacy is the ability to understand and analyze media using critical thinking. The key word here is critical. As a consumer of media, it’s important to remember the web is full of content. Not all of it is worth sharing, reporting or debating.

When you read an article or watch a TV report, take note: Is it fair and balanced? Does the headline have you taking sides? Do they report the good and bad? Who are they interviewing? Do they ask the questions you’d ask? Does the author cite sources? Are they credible sources? Do they have a history of bias? While these aren’t the only questions to ask about what you’re consuming, it’s a helpful start. See any patterns?

From here, you can interpret and evaluate your media by asking and answering what your findings mean and why they matter. Lastly, use your voice as a consumer to engage with the author or content creator on your thoughts and findings. Tweet them, join a web chat about it or even send an email.

Since the media has a large impact on our cultural, political and social environment, it’s our right as the consumer to be critical of them. Overall, understanding and applying this process will help you cut through the clutter, be more credible in discussions with your peers and ultimately make you a more engaged citizen.

Best of luck!


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