Introduction to Media Literacy: Crash Course Media Literacy #1

Hey there everybody, I’m Jay Smooth and
this is Crash Course Media Literacy. For the next few weeks we’re going to take a deep
dive into media – how we consume it, how we create
it, and how it impacts our everyday lives. Before we get started, do me a favor and think: how
many hours did you spend consuming media today? Don’t worry, I’ll wait. What’d you come up with?
2 hours? 3? 5? If you’re the average U.S. adult, today you spent upwards of 10 hours watching TV, listening to the radio, surfing the web, scrolling through your phone, or checking out awesome educational video series on YouTube. That’s over 40% of your day! If you’re a teen or tween, you spent a little
less time – maybe 6 to 9 hours. Never before in history have humans spent
so many waking hours consuming media. Since it’s taking up more and more of our
time each year, it’s important that we understand
its influence on everything we do. [Theme Music] Now when I say “media” I’m talking about
a couple different things. The literal definition of “media” is the plural
of medium, or multiple mediums, so to speak. And a medium is a substance or a method in
which something is communicated. It’s the vehicle for a message. Books, films, paintings, songs, TV shows, poems,
video games, magazines, podcasts, music videos,
newspapers, web forums, coupons, email newsletters, Tweets, straight-to-DVD sequels, receipts, traffic signs,
both good and bad street art, Snapchat stories, those
word of the day calendars your aunt always buys you, protest signs, embarrassing but cute childhood
photos you post on #throwbackthursday, breaking news
push notifications that give you a mini heart attack, sex ed pamphlets about your changing body,
and my Bluray copy of the second highest grossing
film of all time, Titanic – those are all media. When you think about it that way, it makes sense
that we spend so much time consuming media. Whether you’re at work or school or just hanging
out, chances are you’re almost always interacting
with some sort of artifact of communication. As a culture we often stick a “the” in front of “media”
to refer collectively to mass communication. It’s an umbrella term we use to talk about
the widely distributed newspapers, TV channels, websites, radio stations, movie studios, and
more that create or distribute information – like CNN, The New York Times, NPR, Disney,
or YouTube. Whether you’re talking about media as in
multiple mediums or “the media,” and during
this course we’ll be talking about both, the ability to navigate the media is a
powerful and crucial skill. Media scholars refer to this skill as
media literacy. As a field of study, media literacy comprises and overlaps many different theories and subjects, from critical thinking and psychology to linguistics and ethics in technology. In this series, we’ll be using the definition
of media literacy that’s used by the National
Association of Media Literacy Educators. And it describes media literacy as “the
ability to Access, Analyze, Evaluate, Create
and Act using all forms of communication.” Now, with this definition in mind, think back
to the media you spent your time with today. What kind of content were you absorbing, and
how did you get to it? Were you making sense of its messages? Were you aware that each message was created
by someone with their own goals and opinions? When you create media, like a blog post or
an Instagram, what is your responsibility
to those who view it? Finally, what do you do with all that info
you just received? With media literacy skills, you’ll have the power to
think through each of these important questions every
time you pick up your phone or flip on the radio. It’ll be like putting on a pair of glasses
for the first time: so eye opening you’ll
never want to take them off. Which is great, because you won’t actually
be able to take them off – it’ll be hard to look
at media the same way. So, actually I guess media literacy is more
like laser eye surgery. But way cheaper. OK. Media Literacy Lesson #1:
understanding the difference between
media messages and media effects. Media messages are the values and ideas that
are promoted by the media, the things that get
put into them. Media effects are their influences and consequences
on audiences. But talking about media in terms of these
inputs and outputs is way, way too simple. Media doesn’t just broadcast one easy to
understand message straight into our brains. And readers and viewers don’t just agree with
whatever they say and move on with their lives. The creator’s experiences and environment
affect everything they create. Their messages are filled with tons of baggage. And we consumers have our own baggage, too,
which determines how we react to and interpret
messages. Media scholars, cultural critics, and plenty of other very smart academic types have long understood that we need to think about messages and effects in a far more nuanced way. For instance, take British sociologist Stuart
Hall’s theory of encoding and decoding,
popularized in 1973. Hall wrote that before a message is distributed,
it is “encoded” by the creator during its production. The message the creator wants to send is
written in a code of sorts, using a host of pre-understood meanings,
symbols, and definitions that they think or hope
the recipient will understand. But the recipient (that’s you) has their own
mental dictionary full of meanings, symbols,
and definitions. When someone interprets a message, they
“decode” it by applying their knowledge and
experience to decipher its meaning. When I say “encode” and “decode,” I don’t
just mean a secret code you use to talk to your
friends, or Morse code. As Hall would say, all language is “coded.” Let’s go to the Thought Bubble to break
this down: Say you’re texting your significant other
about where to go for dinner. You just heard about this fancy French restaurant
that’s supposed to be super romantic and
perfect for a date. You’re doing a little encoding here. So you say, Let’s do Maison de L’amour
*kissy face emoji* You use the restaurant’s name instead of “fancy
French restaurant” because it sounds more impressive
and makes you look cool for knowing a little French. You throw in a kissy face emoji to turn up
the flirtatiousness. But also notice, you say “do” instead of “go to” because,
since you’re already talking about where to eat, the
activity you’re doing at Maison de L’amour is implied. Done.
Send. They respond, Ok *crying laughing emoji* Wait, what does that mean?! Did you say something wrong?
Do they not want to go? Are they just so stoked for this restaurant
that they’re…laughing maniacally? Do they want to break up?
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Here, you’re trying to decode this mysterious
message using what you know about the English
language, emoji, and your significant other. Maybe some social anxiety is working its way
in, too. Either way, you’re thinking that clearly
your romantic gesture was poorly received. But perhaps all they meant by the crying
laughing emoji was they’d love to go, despite
your super cheesy taste in restaurants. They encoded their message, too, but something
got lost in the decoding. Thanks Thought Bubble. Hall’s theory of encoding and decoding is
a rejection of what’s known as textual determinism, or the idea that a message’s meaning is
inevitably sent and received in its entirety,
just as intended, every time. Hall gave way more credit to the consumer than
many theorists before him, who often thought of
most communication as a one-way street. The significance of this theory is that, as a media
consumer, you’re not just a helpless sponge, absorbing
all kinds of messages without a second thought. You interpret messages in a unique way,
which means you also have the ability to see
what messages are being thrown at you – and decide whether you want to catch them,
pass ‘em on, or drop them completely. This also leaves plenty of room for miscommunication,
and messages getting lost in translation. Of course, scholars, educators, parents, and
consumers have always debated to what degree
media really affects its consumers. Questions of whether media can truly harm or benefit
us has led to media literacy education in schools, media regulations (like movie ratings and
the labeling of advertisements), and tons of
research into media effects. Plus, these days, when two-thirds of U.S. adults
get news from social media – and some of that can
be “fake” news – we constantly have to ask: What information can I truly trust? The answers to questions like these aren’t
always obvious. Luckily, media literacy gives you the tools
you need to find the answers. Whether you’re feeling skeptical of social media’s
role in your political views, questioning the power of
tech companies to control your newsfeeds, or just trying to get your message out into the
world, learning how to navigate the media landscape
is tough, but possible with the right skill set. Now, let’s be honest with each other. If you’re watching this video, you’re
probably already pretty media savvy, or at
least very interested in being so. You clearly love learning and found us here on the
interwebs, so you’ve got some great skills already. Critics might even say we’re just preaching
to the choir. Well, guess what?
If you’re in the choir, we want you singing! This is our official request that you sing
to everyone you know about media literacy. OK, maybe not literally sing.
That might get annoying. But in all seriousness, media literacy education
is only effective when we’re all on the same page. And those who need the most help learning
how to swim in the media deep end are also
the least likely to seek out videos like this. So we need you to pass along these skills to
friends, family, high school acquaintances you only
talk to on Facebook – anyone who won’t come across these
lessons themselves. We’re all in this together. As Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet
says in 1997 hit film, Titanic: You jump, I jump, Jack. Here’s how we’re going to help. During the first half of this course, we’re going
to dive into the history of the field (spoiler alert:
media literacy is not a new problem); learn how to find trusty sources of information;
discover how media and your mind interact; and explore creating media and the
responsibilities that come with it. In the second half of the course we’ll use this
theory to look at how media works in the world: we’ll discover how it’s regulated (the
policies and the economics of it all); the dark side of the media, like propaganda and
misinformation; the lure of advertising; how the big tech companies are changing
the media landscape; plus we’ll take a look at
where the field is headed. Throughout the course, we’ll return to the core
principles of media literacy – to build a framework with
which to approach our everyday, media-filled lives. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Until next time, I’m Jay Smooth for Crash
Course. We’ll see you next week! Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT, It’s made with the help of all of these nice
people and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you wanna keep imagining the world complexly
with us, check out some of our other channels, like
SciShow, Animal Wonders, and The Art Assignment. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone,
forever, you can support the series at Patreon,
a crowdfunding platform that allows you to support
the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued support.

100 thoughts on “Introduction to Media Literacy: Crash Course Media Literacy #1

  1. I'm media illiterate. I know, I'll learn how by watching this YouTube video.
    Does that seem paradoxical to anyone else

  2. I'm graduating in advertising this year, so this is going to be very useful!

  3. I'm a professional writer. Is this course gunna give my secret sauce away? 🙂

  4. This man is putting a lot of trust in him self with out seeing the hipocrasy by the fact that he is a media.

  5. a public enemy album and a judas priest album hanging on the wall, so far so good 🙂

  6. The encoding and decoding is so obvious (you think, duhh) but it's just rippling my brain apart with it's vast consequences.

  7. Why do I feel like eventually you're going to analyze this video for the techniques you used on *us*? Don't get me wrong, I support the series, but I noticed you using techniques you refer to later in the series. Emotional appeals? Check. Deference to celebrities (or celebrity quotes)? Check. Appealing to our egos? Definitely check.

  8. Stuart Hall was not the first to talk about encoding and decoding. So it's not his theory. I mean there were others that were talking about the same stuff and using the same terminology that you talked about in this video, and they were doing it before the 1970s. Claude Shannon for example.

  9. Now I'm skeptical whether they want me to distribute their videos because their earn for views and therefore revenue, or because they follow the good cause of making the people more media savvy. I assume it's both, but my media literacy is only being built right now by this course.

  10. I don't know why but I find this presenter hard to listen to. I can't figure out why, maybe its the speed or the pacing with few rest spots…can't put my finger on it. I love the concept of this channel though. Will continue.

  11. This randomly reminded me of my Econ class WAY back in 1998, we given an assignment to when we were not targeted by media.

  12. Hall's encoding and decoding reminds me of Vittgenstein's use of images and games

  13. I think viewers of this show would be interested to read The Mysterious Benedict Society.

  14. Mindf**k question of the day: do the two hours I spent today watching film clips as I edited them together over my own voiceover to make my first ever video essay count as consuming media, or creating it?

  15. I’m a third year Commmunications major and I’ve been WAITING for Crash Course to do a series on media theory!!! Im so excited to watch these!

  16. Cool, now I have a new course to binge watch and tbh I like this guy

    Just add more sarcasm (can't help it, heavy reddit user)

  17. Media is plural, you defined it in the beginning. The media are…. The media do…..

  18. Reason #42 why I'm a fan of this host: he is one of the rare YouTube video hosts who uses the word "comprise" correctly.

  19. Teens and tweens only 6 hours of media consumption.
    I thought that they were required to go to school, what exactly do you think it is that they do there?

  20. Came to this after Hank's video on who is in control (Facebook). Worth Watching on vlogbrothers.

  21. "First thing’s first: what is media literacy?" Check your punctuation!

  22. Avatar is listed as the highest grossing movie of all time. I was kind of shocked by that.

  23. This was great. I'm a film professor who teaches a media theory and criticism course and this was very helpful. Thank you.

  24. Am I the only one who gets bothered when he’s taking too long to breathe

  25. This Crash Course series should be watched and carefully studied by all humans alive today. This subject is simply not taught in primary school. The world would be a better place if everyone had more media literacy!

  26. Really interesting! I'll definitely continue watching.
    I wonder if Jay's an ENTP? He has really nice eyes and he's smart, too.

  27. Great video I am glad I found this I am trying to develop a class for young adults that deals with media literacy . You are going to be a great resource

  28. Good information and very well presented, but the flow is WAY too fast for me to be able to follow and understand. I have to pause every few seconds just to digest what has just been said or I quickly lose focus.

  29. I was apprehensive about a series not being hosted by the Green brothers but I love this guy wow

  30. Such a good lesson ! It helps a lot in making distinction between media and visual literacy . Thanks for this great lesson .

  31. interesting but you meantioned video games as media what about solo games in which there no interaction or means of communication, unless the game developed was there sending the message ?

  32. This guy has to be black. He’s too swaggey not to be

  33. Have to do a thing on this in school and right now I need help

  34. I actually could learn from this considering how today's media needs to be handled and understood by every single one of us using the internet and other forms of media in today's society. I wonder…will it help me understand why certain social medias are becoming more like Communist censorship?

  35. i'm a freshman and i'm taking intro into digital media and i have no idea what it is. i thought it was an art class on something with art stuff ugh god HELP!!!!

  36. Subtle brainwashing… I hope this garbage never gets into the schools.

  37. "they're tipping babies out of incubators" "Assad is gassing civilians" "Democratic protestors overthrew Milosevic" "Iraq has WMDs" " Putin hacked our elections" "Russia invaded Ukraine" reeeeeeeeeeereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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