Media Literacy Saves Lives


Media Literacy is defined according to CML (Center for Media Literacy) as “a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms— from print to video to the internet.” It allows us to take a deeper look into the various forms of media we see and analyze it according to its credibility. Media literacy also teaches us to ask questions rather than take everything we see or read as factual.

While media literacy can be used as a tool to evaluate others work, it can also be used to create our own media. Knowing what will frame us as a credible source and knowing what readers are looking for, whether fact or opinion, helps us to build our own media stories. Linda Ellerbee, American NBC journalist, said, “Media literacy is not just important, it is absolutely critical. It is going to make the difference between whether kids are a tool of the mass media or the mass media is a tool for kids to use.” Media literacy suggests that rather than taking media at face value, we analyze and question who wrote it and their perspective in order to better understand. And, in turn, we can create media that is reliable and sends a message that is of worth to those who view it.

Media is such a valuable tool and can be used for good if the people creating it have a vast have the media literacy necessary to know what their viewers need to see. The PSA I have attached shook me to my core the first time I watched it. One of my Facebook friends shared it, and not really knowing what it was, I watched it. It seems kind of pointless until you reach the end and realize what the creator was really trying to portray. This public service announcement was made in response to Sandy Hook and the countless number of other school shootings and urges watchers to pay attention to the signs around them. Throughout the video the producer includes subtle hints to the shooting happening at the end, but if you’re anything like me you are paying far more attention to the love story happening on screen. At the end, he highlights the little indicators that point to what led to the shooting.

The creators of this video are in fact an organization called Sandy Hook Promise, an organization whose goal is to educate the public about gun violence. They build their credibility by being an established organization of those who were involved in or lost children in the Sandy Hook shooting. They know first-hand what it is like to lose a child and later investigated the signs that could have prevented it. Anyone who might question their motivation will quicklycome to realize that this organization is simply trying to prevent another tragic shooting by building their profile as an anti-gun violence group.

The Sandy Hook Promise group also used their media literacy to take advantage of their audience. They know that people have limited awareness of action occurring in the video aside from the main plot. They purposely blurred the background, which held the hints of the shooting to prove that unless you pay attention you will miss the signs of potential danger.

The indicators of the true purpose of this video remain hidden as the title of the video is just “Evan,” and there is a limited description and no comments allowed. This leaves the reader vulnerable to the content they are about to watch. The Sandy Hook Promise knew how to construct and produce their video in such a way that would send a clear and unexpected message to their viewers. They took their media literacy and knowledge of the subject of school shootings and created a video that would send a frightening moral and urge the viewers to heed their counsel.

Media literacy is all about being smart about what you read and post on various forms of media. The Sandy Hook Promise organization used this to their advantage to create a video for the good of society and to protect children and adults alike from the horror they faced on December 14, 2012.



“Media Literacy: A Definition and More.” Media Literacy: A Definition and More | Center for Media Literacy,

Tweet That, Hurricane Harvey

The Theory of Uses and Gratification examines why people use certain media, and the personal needs one fulfills when viewing media. When it comes to news, most people turn to social media like Twitter and Facebook; but what makes them interested in those posts? Why do people turn to twitter and Facebook to ask for help in times of destress? On one end, people are either interested in this news or they are just curious as to what is happening. On the other end those affected by what is going on are looking to media to aid them in times of destress. Both sides know why they are on those social media websites, which is to satisfy their own personal purposes.

Hurricane Harvey devastated my home town of Houston, Texas. While I was here in Provo, Utah 1200 miles away from home all I had were social media posts showing the catastrophic events taking part in Houston. So many homes and businesses were destroyed, not to mention the thousands of lives that were lost. There was however, during this troubling time, a light at the end of the tunnel. As you sifted through the upsetting pictures and videos on twitter there would be occasional tweets asking for help at a specific location and within seconds there were countless replies of citizens willing to come to the rescue. Neighbors were heading out on their boats to rescue people from their homes or cars. This disastrous time brought our socially-torn country together. Few weeks before there were equal rights demonstrations and threats of bombing from outside countries. And yet once Harvey hit that all virtually disappeared from social media. Local businesses started giving a portion of their profits to Harvey relief efforts, and celebrities were pledging hundreds of thousands of dollars to help those affected. All of these relief efforts were advertised on social media. JJ Watt through requesting donations on various social media sites raised 37 Million dollars.

The video I’ve attached is meant to not only attract empathy, but also demonstrate how a community can come together. What would drive someone to watch this video or go as far as to retweet it? For me, it was for closure. I had seen my home ripped apart so my attachment to the video came from seeing the efforts to rebuild. I’m sure a lot of people had the same feelings; though on the contrary, there were also those who watched it just because they were curious, or maybe they didn’t care about they video at all they were just killing  time on their phone. Everyone has different reasons for viewing media, and each person reacts differently to it; therefore, media always fulfills a personal need.

I assume that the user who made the video  was trying to invoke sympathy from those far away who did not feel the destructive power of Harvey. This ties into the Theory of Encoding and Decoding. Those who live in Houston or have family in Houston will decode the video differently than those who have no relation. The user had a purposeful message to convey, but how each viewer decodes it depends on their relevance to the situation.  

Both the Uses and Gratification theory and the Encoding and Decoding Theory examine why people view the media the way they do, and how their purpose in viewing determines how they interpret it. Hurricane Harvey trended on social media the first day it struck, instantly affecting the lives of most everyone with a computer or smart phone. Though they were all viewing the same media, everyone had their own reasons for being on those sites and had different reactions to the images and news they witnessed. It’s because people viewed the media surrounding the storm that so many lives were saved.  Tweet that, Hurricane Harvey.