EDITING : 2024.4.22 월 18:51
The Gachon Herald
Media Literacy ; to become a wise voter and a consumer
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Updated : 2022.06.30  15:54:27
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 In a journalism lecture back in my college, the professor said, “You have to read the lines of the newspaper.” He explained that it is necessary to understand the context of the article, not only the content. Decades later, today's media environment has become difficult to watch, to read, and to accept the given media contents as immutable truth. Although audiences still tend to consume media content without filtration, there is no audience who can embrace every information exponentially increased in the digital media environment. Audiences selectively consume and reconstruct huge amounts of media information according to their own tastes and standards. Although the amount of information has exponentially increased, our capacity to perceive such information still has limitations.
 In the 20th century, when people said “I read it in the newspaper” or “I saw it on TV,” most people undoubtedly accepted it as the truth. In the 21st century digital media society, people can find, interpret, and judge the content they are interested in. Therefore, the audience was able to grasp the context naturally, while they were in the process of choosing the information they’d like to accept. When social issues were decided according to the agenda set by the media, audiences had to deliberately grasp the intentions of the media to understand the proper context. However, now audiences are able to naturally make subjective understanding and judgment in the process of choosing the information necessary for themselves. While people who lived with traditional media have lived by depending on the frames presented by the media, the digital media generation selectively consumes information as a proactive audience. People can then interpret and analyze social and political issues according to their interests and attitudes.
 However, there are also side effects due to changes in the amount and quality of digital media information. People communicate through as simple a process as possible because our cognitive structure cannot handle all the information passing by. Therefore, if you open your eyes and ears only to interesting or useful information, you would frequently skip the process of interpreting and judging. Then, you will tend to unconsciously follow the public opinion that everyone else likes. Sometimes, opinions manipulated from a collective group, or minority with loud voices can make wrong results. In addition, as the huge digital media grasps our communication data and provides messages related to what we have discovered before, we can face a deeper information bias than in the traditional media era.
 Media companies must continue to deliver their political and economic mission and role in different communication situations, though they cannot stop pursuing their own interest for survival. The media has a responsibility to provide information to support voters/consumers to make right decisions, and to protect their own rights. But at the same time, the media needs to make profits by utilizing audiences’ attention, mainly generated from business models using advertising or traffic. People who are familiar with using the media for their own benefit such as politicians, entrepreneurs, could try to control the media. Because of this collustion, audiences could be blocked from information required to make a right political/economical judgment, also their right as a voter or consumer can be infringed.
 Thus what we need is media literacy. We should be able to read the meaning of content based on an understanding of media ownership, media economics, and the political aspects of media itself. This is why we should be more insightful to the media in this era of infinite information circulation and two-way communication. The more you understand the media, the wiser you become a voter or consumer. 

▲ Dept of. Media Communication

Prof. Lee Jonggwan

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