Media Literacy: Deconstructing the Headlines

14 Jan

One of my goals of starting a community radio station is to promote media literacy. In an age where “anyone” can be a “journalist,” it is important to look at our sources with a critical eye. On the other hand, the availability of more diverse sources should make us skeptical of the old, centralized models of media.

Take the following headline on today’s web edition of The Miami Herald, for example.

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If you have not been living under a rock, you are probably aware of the fact that taxpayers bankrolled a stadium for the Marlins just a few years before the owners sold off the team and made a pretty penny (again). You might also know that the lousy deal caught the eye of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was investigating the City of Miami for civil fraud in relation to bonds sold to finance the park.

So when I read a headline like the one above, I immediately probe a little deeper: what does it ask and why is it written that way? The Dolphins are worried that taxpayers are not as willing to be duped again. Wait a second… why WOULD taxpayers want to pay for a stadium again? What if the headline were re-written as Taxpayers Unwilling to Line Pockets of Sports Team Owners?

Perhaps that is a bit heavy-handed–but the point still stands: we need to be more skeptical of the media we consume.

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2 Responses to “Media Literacy: Deconstructing the Headlines”

  1. Jordan Melnick January 14, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Right, people need to realize that every word from a media outlet represents a choice. Not just this headline vs. that headline, but this quote vs. that quote, this interviewee vs. that interviewee, and especially important to note is the choices of the stories themselves. Just because it appears on the front page of a big-name media outlet does not mean it is the most or only important news of the day. Good advice to journos and media “consumers” alike: Listen for the silences. Meaning: consider what is NOT being said, NOT being written, NOT being proposed. If you decide it SHOULD be said/written/proposed, demand it. Even better, do it yourself.

    • Miami LPFM January 14, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      Great advice. Many days, I find a stunning lack of skepticism in the Miami Herald.

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