A critical introduction to the critical media literacy education
Ali Reza Bastani, Media Literacy Educator, Ph.D Communications student at Azad University Science and Research Center, TEL: +989122502710, email@example.com.
The critical media literacy seeks the way to the justice, democracy and training citizens in a world which is turning into global and net era so it necessitates a condition to teach our students critical and transformative pedagogy to make them perceive their roles as justice followers and global citizens. It appears that people should take part in all activities in their lives to inspect and control the national and international governments’ decisions and their behavior so if we don’t have people engaged in politics, the concept of democracy process will be weaker in the western societies. Although the most important point in the critical media literacy is to expose the students with media contents, people are no more eager in ideological and political knowledge, so it deems we are not supposed to achieve the actual targets of CML.
This paper is intended to represent a critical introduction to the critical media literacy education on the basis of documentary-library study.
Key Words: critical media literacy, politics & policy, democracy, culture, CML
To complete this review I followed established practices set out in the literature and institutional Standard Operating Procedures. Initially a number of bibliographic databases (Science direct, Google Scholar and Web of Science) were searched using pre-defined keywords, identifying a large number of potentially relevant papers and reports.
Given the large number of references, I focused on reviews in order to refine the analysis. Some reviews were studied by names of CML scholars so as to establish a good location for the author’s idea. Consideration was given to some Skype interviews and newspaper documents to conceptualize Political Analysis and the influential role of power and economics on how educators and students may look superficially to the definitions of democracy, human rights, justice and social equality.
Many countries are transforming from industrial to knowledge societies and the popularity of the Internet has accelerated the pace of this globalization. People around the world are much better connected by social media and mobile technologies, yet some marginalized groups remain deprived of opportunities for accessing information due to the digital divide. The fast-paced development of digital technologies and their applications has had an unprecedented influence on global societies and the world economy. (Lee. Et, al. ,2013: 5)
Barriers and challenges remain, generated by the global digital divide and a lack of access to ICTs due to low SES, race, gender, age, disability, language and political instability, in addition to restrictions in freedom of the press rooted in political reasoning and media concentration. (Ibid)
21th century is the era of competencies
The 21st century is an era of change. The globe is under the influence of three major world trends: the revolutionary development of information and communication technologies, the transition to a knowledge society and the new learning mode of the Net Generation. (Ibid)
The cultivation of the 21st century competencies is essential to the implementation of the C3 and C9 Action Lines, as their fundamental spirit is to provide information and education for all. Every citizen is entitled to the updated literacy training required for full participation in the knowledge societies. (Ibid)
The aim of this report is to explore the literacy and competencies required for citizens, communities and nations to participate in future knowledge societies, with specific reference to the implementation of WSIS Action Lines C3 (Access to Information and Knowledge) and C9 (Media). (Op.cit:4)
Many novel literacy concepts have been put forward in response to the new social and technological environments. Some are independent and novel, such as digital literacy and information fluency, whereas others are compound concepts such as multiliteracies, transliteracy and media and information literacy (MIL). Recent studies have indicated that future society will comprise the semantic Web, Big Data, cloud computing, smart phones and apps, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and various new gadgets. In short, it will be an information and communications technology (ICT)-based society. Given the complexity of the next society, this report adopts an integrated approach towards new literacy training by establishing a literacy framework of “21st Century Competencies”. (Ibid)
The following key future competencies, classified into three categories, are identified as essential to future society:
(1) conceptual competencies: connectivist thinking, innovative thinking and problem solving, critical thinking, reflective thinking and positive thinking skills;
(2) practical competencies: media and information literacy (with ICT skills as a key component) and learning skills; and
(3) human competencies: social networking skill and virtual collaboration, self-management, humanistic consciousness, digital citizenship and cross-cultural interaction skill. (Ibid)
Ferguson proposes that when discussing media, many people only look at the obvious and overt tip of the iceberg—the 10 percent they can see sticking out of the water. He suggests that what’s missing is a questioning of the social contexts that influence both media and society—economics, ideology, history, politics, and the role of language and communication to define relationship of power. (share, Thoman, 2007:20)
WHAT IS MEDIA LITERACY
The term media literacy is in many ways unsatisfactory. As both Kress (2003) and Buckingham (2003) have pointed out, it is irrevocably related to language, it becomes something more metaphorical when applied to other media and it doesn’t make sense in languages where the term used is even more literally print-related, as in the French term alphabétisme. Indeed, it simply does not translate into some other languages, so that educators outside the Anglophone world who wish to employ the concept sometimes use the phrase ‘media literacy’ in English. (Burn, Durran, 2007:3)
First, it is not easy to think of another term which would serve a similar purpose and be somehow more accurate. Such expressions as ‘communicative competence’ (Germany and Austria also have the term Medienkompetenz, for instance) emphasize functional skills at the expense of cultural factors. ‘Literacy’ implies cultural competence. It is something we use to claim membership of particular social groups, whether these be players of the online roleplaying game World of Warcraft, aficionados of the films of Ken Loach or the Harry Potter fan club. These kinds of affiliations may be rooted in claims of cultural value or in common experiences of pleasure, but they are all connected to social identities, and part of our efforts to be a particular kind of person moving in a particular kind of social world. (Ibid)
Secondly, media literacy is not simply (or not only) a metaphor, but draws attention to important connections between print literacy and the way people engage with the media. These connections are present at all points of the three-part conceptual structure media education is often seen to operate: institution, text, audience. (Ibid)
Institutions imply the study of how media texts are produced, the political and economic contexts from which they emerge, the messages their producers intend them to convey. Texts suggest the ‘languages’ of the media: how they represent the world, how they use particular structures or grammars to form these representations, how they are composed. (Ibid)
Audiences are, of course, the counterparts of producers, traditionally seen as consumers of media texts, and can be studied in terms of their social uses of the media, their tastes and pleasures and their interpretive strategies. (Ibid)
This is a simple explanation of this three-part structure; needless to say, life is more complicated than this, and we will return to these ideas later. Institutions and audiences are typically not attended to by traditional literary studies in schools, but there is every reason to argue that they should be. (Ibid)
Finally, ‘media literacy’ means something in the UK in the contexts of the National Curriculum, the BBC and OFCOM, the media super-regulator. Of course, it means something slightly different in all these cases, and something different again to media teachers; but the debate about what it means for children to learn about books, films, comics and computer games can at least take place under the general umbrella of media literacy. (Op. Cit : 4)
In the UK, the new super-regulator OFCOM has a remit to develop media literacy. Shortly after its formation in 2004, it published a consultation paper with a draft definition of media literacy, and subsequently decided on a three part working definition, derived from earlier models (e.g. Aufderheide, 1997):
Access, Understand, and Create (OFCOM, 2005). In many respects this is a positive development for media educators in the UK. It represents the first solid policy commitment to the importance of media literacy, indicated in advance of a seminar in London by the words of then Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell:
I believe that in the modern world media literacy will become as important a skill as math or science. Decoding our media will be as important to our lives as citizens as understanding great literature is to our cultural lives. (Op.Cit:7)
Literacy involves gaining the skills and knowledge to read, interpret, produce texts and arti-facts, and to gain the intellectual tools and capacities to fully participate in one’s culture and society. Both traditionalists and reformists would probably agree that education and literacy are intimately connected. “Literacy,” in our conception, comprises gaining competencies involved in effectively learning and using socially constructed forms of communication and representation. Because literacies are socially constructed in various institutional discourses and practices within educational and cultural sites, cultivating literacies involves attaining competencies in practices in contexts that are governed by rules and conventions. Literacies evolve and shift in response to social and cultural change and the interests of elites who control hegemonic institutions, as well as to the emergence of new technologies. (Kellner, Share, 2007:5)
To the domains of reading, writing, and traditional print literacies, one could argue that in an era of technological revolution educators must develop robust forms of media literacy, computer literacy, and multimedia literacies, thus cultivating “multiple literacies” in the restructuring of education. Computer and multimedia technologies demand novel skills and competencies, and if education is to be relevant to the problems and challenges of contemporary life, engaged teachers must expand the concept of literacy and develop new curricula and pedagogies. (Ibid)
These scholars suggest that media literacy is one of the many literacies that students need in the twenty-first century to participate more effectively in the democratic process. We agree with these perspectives and in the following analysis suggest how critical media literacy can reconstruct education for the contemporary era, expand the concept of literacy, and contribute to the radical democratization of education and society. (Ibid)
Douglas Kellner and Jeff Share argue that critical media literacy aims to expand the notion of literacy to include different forms of media culture, information and communication technologies and new media, as well as deepen the potential of literacy education to critically analyze relationships between media and audiences, information and power. (Op.Cit:2)
It is highly irresponsible in the face of saturation by the Internet and media culture to ignore these forms of socialization and education. Consequently, a critical reconstruction of education should produce pedagogies that provide media literacy and enable students, teachers, and citizens to discern the nature and effects of media culture. From this perspective, media culture is a form of pedagogy that teaches proper and improper behavior, gender roles, values, and knowledge of the world. Individuals are often not aware that they are being educated and positioned by media culture, as its pedagogy is frequently invisible and is absorbed unconsciously. This situation calls for critical approaches that make us aware of how media construct meanings, influence and educate audiences, and impose their messages and values. (Op.Cit:4)
The New London Group (1996) suggest that media literacy is one of the many literacies that students need in the twenty-first century to participate more effectively in the democratic process. We agree with these perspectives and in the following analysis suggest how critical media literacy can reconstruct education for the contemporary era, expand the concept of literacy, and contribute to the radical democratization of education and society. (Op.Cit:6)
Critical analysis that explores and exposes the structures of oppression is essential because merely coming to voice is something any racist or sexist group of people can also claim. Spaces must be opened up and opportunities created so that people in marginalized positions have the opportunity to collectively struggle against oppression, to voice their concerns, and create their own representations. (Op.Cit:7)
Incorporating the arts and media production into public school education holds important political benefits for making learning more experiential, hands-on, creative, expressive, and fun. Media arts education can bring pleasure and popular culture into mainstream education, thereby making school more motivating and relevant to students. When this approach moves beyond technical production skills or relativist art appreciation and is steeped in cultural studies that address issues of gender, race, class, and power, it holds dramatic potential for transformative critical media literacy. (Ibid)
The media literacy movement in the United States of America represented the definition of media literacy “media literacy is seen to consist of a series of communication competencies, including the ability to ACCESS, ANALYZE, EVALUATE and COMMUNICATE.” (Ibid)
While we agree with the need to begin with these ideas of expanding our understanding of how we communicate with more than just printed words, this is not enough to bring about a democratic reconstruction of education and society.
Many media educators working from a conventional media literacy approach openly express the myth that education can and should be politically neutral, and that their job is to objectively expose students to media content without questioning ideology and issues of power. Giroux writes, “The notion that theory, facts, and inquiry can be objectively determined and used falls prey to a set of values that are both conservative and mystifying in their political orientation”. (Op.Cit:8)
The mainstream appeal of the U.S. media literacy movement, something that it is only just starting to develop, can probably be linked to its conservative base that does not engage the political dimensions of education and especially literacy. While this ambiguous nonpartisan stance helps the dissemination of media education, thereby making some of the ideas and tools available to more students, it also waters down the transformative potential for media education to become a powerful instrument to challenge oppression and strengthen democracy. The media literacy movement has done excellent work in promoting important concepts of semiotics and intertextuality, as well as bringing media culture into public education. However, without cultural studies, transformative pedagogy, and a project of radical democracy, media literacy risks becoming another cookbook of conventional ideas that only improve the social reproductive function of education. (Op.Cit:8)
A critical media literacy brings an understanding of ideology, power, and domination that challenges relativist and apolitical notions of much media education in order to guide teachers and students in their explorations of how power, media, and information are linked. This approach embraces the notion of the audience as active in the process of making meaning, as a cultural struggle between dominant readings, oppositional readings, or negotiated readings. (Op.Cit:8)
Critical media literacy thus constitutes a critique of mainstream approaches to literacy and a political project for democratic social change. This involves a multiperspectival critical inquiry of media culture and the cultural industries that address issues of class, race, gender, sexuality, and power and also promotes the production of alternative counterhegemonic media. (Op.Cit:8)
Luke and Freebody (1999) write that effective literacy requires four basic roles (not necessarily sequential or hierarchical) that allow learners to: “break the code,” “participate in understanding and composing,” “use texts functionally,” and “critically analyze and transform texts by acting on knowledge that texts are not ideologically natural or neutral.” This normative approach offers the flexibility for literacy education to explore and critically engage students with the pedagogy that will work best for individual teachers in their own unique situation with the different social and cultural needs and interests of their students and local community. (Op.Cit:9)
A CML approach to teaching reminds educators and students that the questions that need to be asked are often the ones that challenge what some consider to be the most fundamental building blocks of society. Critical pedagogues such as Apple (2004), Freire (2010), Giroux (2004), and hooks (2010) address inequities of class in education. While a dominant ideology holds that class is disappearing in contemporary U.S. society, in fact class distinctions are growing. Hence, while ideologues of contemporary society claim that great inequalities of class have been overcome, this is simply false, as scholars such as Atkinson (2010) and Piketty (2014) have maintained. On the whole, dominant media such as film and television often celebrate the rich and powerful while presenting negative representations of poor and working people. Traditionally, U.S. television focused on middle and upper class families, and professionals like doctors, lawyers, or corporate executives, while tending to ignore working class life and poor people. Having studied TV portrayals of class on US prime-time sitcoms for over four decades, Butsch (2003) reports persistent patterns of underrepresentation of working-class occupations and negative stereotypes of working-class men. Butsch asserts that these representations work well to “justify class relations of modern capitalism” (p. 575). To be sure, some TV series like Norman Lear’s All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman show problems and conflicts within working class life in sympathetic ways, as do some contemporary Hollywood films (Kellner, 2010). While the growth of cable networks and the Internet has depicted more diversity, the majority of representations still valorize the wealthy at the expense of the working-class and poor. Although the entire media landscape should never be overly simplified as monolithic and one-dimensional in its portrayal of social class issues, it continues to favor a model of economic success grounded in dogged individualism detached from larger social structures or communities of subjugation, mutual support, and struggle. (Funk, 2016: 14-15)
If we believe that capitalism uses media, film and specifically the television, as an instrument to mislead people in getting the causes of their life realities, they are not going to search who is the responsible for the condition they are in and the only thing they care is to increase their consumption for getting their desire to a better change.
In “When Hope is Subversive”, Giroux (2004) argues, “Market values replace social values. Power has become disconnected from issues of equity, social justice, and civic responsibility” (p. 62). In the struggle for democracy amidst educational and political crises, Giroux (2004) suggests that hope must be maintained. (Op.Cit:15)
CML aims to advance goals of democracy, justice, and citizenship, yet in an increasingly globalized and networked world, a critical and transformative pedagogy should teach students to think about their roles as justice-oriented global citizens. (Op.Cit:21)
The soul of democracy is dead
In general speaking, it can be concluded what media emerge is not the reflection of reality or the actual image in societies. It’s alleged that media are promoting democracy and the right of speech with their active presence in western societies while the soul of democracy is dead since media are not echoing the realities. Deeply thinking in this regard, we conclude what is expected from the critical media literacy cannot nurture the students’ minds in achieving the equality or justice in the world. Our students cannot be responsible citizens, what CML promises to do, because they remain impartial and neutral towards the problematic situations that oppressed people undertake. It seems that the west pays more attention to climate change or environmental tasks which we should never valorize over the other problems. Looking profoundly to the aforesaid subjects, we shall observe that the decisions of countries taken part in climate change conferences already embeds in political decisions and superpowers exert leverage over countries by threating them in eluding their commitments in declining greenhouse gases. If the CML was to teach the students its aims including politics, it would target to question the structures of power and ideologies.
Here is a part of David Buckingham’s outlook which talks about political interest among youths. The young people whom I interviewed were, on one level, extremely cynical about politics as conventionally defined – that is, about the actions of politicians. While they were sometimes irreverent or dismissive, they could also be distinctly bitter and forceful. Politicians were often condemned, not merely as boring, but also as corrupt, uncaring, insincere and self-interested; and politics was widely dismissed as a kind of dishonest game, which had little relevance to the students’ everyday lives and concerns. (Buckingham, 1998:4)
The students explained the reasons for these views in terms of their own inability to intervene or participate: since they could not make any difference to what happened, why should they make the effort to find out about it? When pushed, they acknowledged that political changes (for example, at the election) might well have implications for themselves or their families; and yet the fact that they could not vote meant that they could only observe this process with passive detachment. Somehow, a lack of interest in politics appeared to be perceived as part of the condition of being a child. (Ibid)
You know young people in this country are really not interested in politics. It’s largely a secular country. I wouldn’t say teaching about the religion. (Buckingham, David. Skype interview. 12 Sept. 2016)
People active in Politician’s decisions, promote Democratization
One of the major objectives of critical approach in media literacy education is cultivating the concept of human equality and democracy in societies in order to inform audiences not to be inactive with media messages but scrutinize them critically.
The presence of people in any activities in society and their inspection on the domestic affairs or on foreign policies made by politicians and state stakeholders proves that Democratization is available provided citizens take part in political affairs, otherwise the democracy is getting weakened and collapsed in societies. It is people who should hold control over the state holders and upon their decisions, however, the concept of democratization, different types of justice, and human rights, the standards of CML, cannot be applied to its pedagogy.
Since democracy is a main topic in our discussion, let’s have a look at its meaning in Webster dictionary which defines it as: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
As all the above-mentioned terms are involved with politics, there has been no effort to create the culture of politics among people in west because it is against the will of capitalism. If media disseminate the concept of political culture, it is going to make the political culture as the customary belief, social form and also the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time. If media try to make political procedure as a routine among people, they never let the government impose dictatorship to its people nor to other countries, so we have everyone including media educators and students involved in a series of activities mentioned above to responsively question their government upon whatever it has done domestically or internationally. Consequently politicians will not forget the humane morality towards their citizens or the other people in the world.
It is believed that CML should be scheduled with some political and economic knowledge curriculum to enlighten the educators and the students, too.
Empowering CML educators and students with political knowledge could have enabled them to get a political savvy to predict the result of the U.S presidential campaign in which Donald Trump was the winner. However, political knowledge gives people farsightedness to predict the events in future to be sensitive to the fate of people.
Coexistence of capital and power
Using media in the world of politics play an amazing role. Undoubtedly, when we talk about the power, we should necessarily pay attention to the politics which is used as the main factor in balancing the international relations. It’s though a good criterion for anyone who wants to study the world order to recognize the powers in shadow or powers behind the curtain so it will lead us to understand the cause of insecurity and instability in some countries in the world.
We may look at the coexistence of capital and power accompanying media in triggering the chaotic situations in the world and moreover they are the cause of inequality and injustice among societies, hence anyone can understand the cause of the digital and information divide in the world.
Is critical media literacy promoting the democracy status in societies?
Once Donald Trump accused Obama and Clinton as the founders of ISIS terrorist group in the U.S presidential campaign, but this allegation didn’t make too much sensitivity among people to investigate and complain against Obama, while there were a lot of images of decapitated U.S soldiers and innocent journalists on Televisions because it seems there has not been this procedure in west to question their state authorities for what they’ve done. What’s been the outcome of CML in these incidents against such groups who were freely killing people? Was there a powerful students’ campaign against these actions? Of course west people were annoyed by these heart rendering news but they didn’t actually know how to react because it needs public opinion to be trained in politics.
What this article tries to deliver is the reality that critical media literacy is going to be transformative to rebuild the basis of education, to improve the literacy perspectives, to facilitate the democratization process in society and to pave the way for stablishing a strong structure to get the equality and create the foundation of democracy.
Having participated everyone in the activities of society and in their government’s affairs in field of political, cultural, economic etc. issues needs to teach them some courses in the knowledge of power and politics to get them prepared for reviewing or questioning political and ideological constructions.
It’s been seen that CML educators show no more tendency to the politics then they won’t be able to analyze their state affairs nor do they predict the political results in future, so they won’t recognize media events from media hypes. This spectacle delivers to the students and the political disinclination becomes a culture among people in west and it makes no problem to them whether the human rights and democracy is running in the other countries or not, they may not care the digital divide in many more countries in the world.
It is likely media-saturated environment prevents people to think about anybody rather than themselves. Therefore, CML pedagogy may not effectively teach the students be careful about justice and democracy. The terms of, democracy and human rights, are sacred for all people in the world so if the countries who hold capital and political powers in hands are not being questioned and don’t feel any pressure from public opinion in their own countries, they will carry on their arrogant behavior to the oppressed people by doing different types of selfish and brutal actions which the prominent one is the clash between civilizations that works out well in the world.
Media are the best instruments in the hands of capitalism to convert the news events into what they want to deliver to audience. To attain the goals of capitalism and due to its vested interests, media manipulate public opinion not to reach to the fact of capitalism vested interests, hence media cannot have the informative and transformative characteristics.
For example, reading the content of a TV series like Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (Berman et al., & Whedon et al., 1997–2003) discerns more positive representations of young women than are typical in mainstream media artifacts and sends out messages of teen female empowerment (Kellner, 2004b). The positive representations of gays and lesbians on the show also transmit messages that suggest more multiple and pluralistic representations of sexuality than is usual in U.S. network TV programs (although representations of sexuality have greatly expanded over the past decade). The monsters on Buffy can be read as signifying dangers of drugs, rampant sexuality, or gangs producing destructive violence. (Kellner, Share, 2007:14)
Donald Trump has described President Barack Obama as “the founder of Isis”, and said his rival Hillary Clinton was the “co-founder” of the fundamentalist organization as he intensified his attacks on the Democratic Party. (Cockburn, 2016, Independent)
Mr. Trump’s remarks came 24 hours after he generated widespread outrage by suggesting to supporters that shooting Ms. Clinton may be the only way to stop her seeking gun controls. (Ibid)
Speaking at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, Mr Trump said: “We unleashed fury all over the Middle East and it was a terrible mistake. And then Obama came in and normally you want to clean up. He made a bigger mess out of it. He made such a mess. And then you had Hillary with Libya, so sad.” (Ibid)
“In fact, in many respects, you know they honor President Obama, Isis is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of Isis. He is the founder of Isis. He’s the founder. He founded Isis. (Ibid)
“And I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder. Crooked Hillary Clinton.” (Ibid)
Let’s say we have a daily newspaper, I’m looking at its page and it’s talking about an ISIS attack and basically the headline is blaming the Muslims. (Fraser, Pete. Skype interview, 20 Oct. 2016)
How is it possible to stick some concepts to CML?
It’s better to have a look at the meaning of democracy terminology which is: fair and equal treatment of everyone in an organization, etc. and their rights to take part in making decisions (Oxford advanced Dictionary). Having participated everyone in stakeholders’ decisions in the fields of political, cultural, economic etc. issues needs to have the public opinion informed of what politics makers do and these sorts of information looks that politics knowledge should be the prerequisite curriculum in critical media literacy. It seems there is a paradox in critical media literacy curriculum because criticism should challenge the power and politics while there is no space for challenging the political events then the present condition arises this question how media educators are to teach and expose the students with media contents without reviewing or questioning political and ideological constructions?
Some questions to be asked for violent groups
Why are there some heavily-armed terrorist groups who kill innocent people day by day but not the public opinion globally questions their founders? Why don’t we have a global mobilization against the financial supporters of these groups? How is it possible to conceptualize democracy and human rights to the students without caring other people’s rights? Are the media in west do responsively their responsibilities to show their audience some man-made calamities imposed to people in the world? What are the priorities of western media nationally or internationally? Who prioritizes their demands? Do they believe only in their own rights or they care other people’s rights too?
It’s wise to get back some years ago to analyze carefully the role of political and economic power and review the role of politicians in the incident of September 11, 2001 attack by terrorist group “Al- Qaede “ and comparing it with Huntington’s doctrine.
A long-classified U.S. report released Friday found that some of the 9/11 hijackers were in contact with and received support from individuals likely connected to the Saudi government. (Sciutto, 2016, CNN Politics)
Known as the “28 pages,” the secret document was part of a 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks and has been classified since the report’s completion, despite repeated calls for its release. The document, which the administration finally delivered to Congress earlier Friday, actually contains 29 pages of material, plus a letter from then-CIA Director George Tenet. (Ibid)
“While in the United States, some of the September 11 hijackers were in contact with, and received support or assistance from, individuals who may be connected to the Saudi Government,” the document says. (Ibid)
The pages also say that the inquiry obtained information “indicating that Saudi Government officials in the United States may have other ties to al-Qa’ida and other terrorist groups,” but the commission that authored the document acknowledged that much of the info “remains speculative and yet to be independently verified.” (Ibid)
The long-classified document detailing possible connections between the government of Saudi Arabia and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot released on Friday is a wide-ranging catalog of meetings and suspicious coincidences. (MAZZETTI, 2016, The New York Times)
It details contacts between Saudi officials and some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda militant’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing an Aspen, Colo., home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington. (Ibid)
But it is also a frustrating time capsule, completed in late 2002 and kept secret for nearly 14 years out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. (Ibid)
Much of the push over more than a decade to get the document declassified was led by former Senator Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who was one of the co-chairmen of the congressional inquiry. In a statement on Friday, Senator Graham compared the release to the “removal of the cork at the end of the bottle” that should lead to even more information to be declassified. (Ibid)
In particular, some investigators remain puzzled by the exact role played by Fahad al-Thumairy, a Saudi consular official based in the Los Angeles area at the time of the attacks. They believe that if there had been any Saudi government role in the plot, it probably would have involved him. (Ibid)
Mr. Thumairy was the imam of a mosque visited by two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, and some American government officials have long suspected that Mr. Thumairy assisted the two men — Nawaq Alhamzi and Khalid al-Midhar — after they arrived in Los Angeles in early 2000. (Ibid)
Let’s bring another example to prove that media educators should be empowered by the acumen of political analysis so that they could be able to dissolve such issues themselves then to transfer this concept to their students. It seems to be impossible to attain the comprehensive aim of critical media literacy as long as there is not the curriculum of politics in CML.
It’s necessary to mention that every day we are watching and listening to the news of carnage of terrorist groups like Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS, but we don’t follow any serious actions nationwide or internationally and no protesting movement among the public opinion anywhere in the west and it is likely to say that critical media literacy has not succeeded yet to achieve its transformative pedagogy.
As the United States prepared for war against Afghanistan, some academics or journalists argued that Usama bin Ladin’s al-Qa’ida group and Afghanistan’s Taliban government were really creations of American policy run amok. A pervasive myth exists that the United States was complicit for allegedly training Usama bin Ladin and the Taliban. For example, Jeffrey Sommers, a professor in Georgia, has repeatedly claimed that the Taliban had turned on “their previous benefactor.” David Gibbs, a political science professor at the University of Arizona, made similar claims. Robert Fisk, widely-read Middle East correspondent for The Independent, wrote of “CIA camps in which the Americans once trained Mr. Bin Ladin’s fellow guerrillas.”(1) Associated Press writer Mort Rosenblum declared that “Osama bin Ladin was the type of Soviet-hating freedom fighter that U.S. officials applauded when the world looked a little different.”(2) (Rubin, 2004, The Washington Institute)
In fact, neither bin Ladin nor Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Umar were direct products of the CIA. The roots of the Afghan civil war and the country’s subsequent transformation into a safe-haven for the world’s most destructive terror network is a far more complex story, one that begins in the decades prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (Ibid)
The non-Western nations also have absorbed, to the full, the truth of the response of the Indian defense minister when asked what lesson he learned from the Gulf War: “Don’t fight the United States unless you have nuclear weapons.”
North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Algeria appear to be attempting to acquire them. (Huntington, 1993: 46)
Following his doctrine, Obama’s government officials started imposing sanctions on Iran exactly the same decision which was taken by George W Bush during the term of Saddam Hussein’s office pretending of having nuclear power which didn’t come true, but it gave the U.S army enough reason to invade Iraq. In briefing their invasion to Iraq, the U.S officials alleged they didn’t have sufficient information for what they did. The U.S diplomacy got its ultimate end utilizing the international media hype without receiving objections from its public opinion. The U.S and its western allies have been searching the same procedure during recent years with the help of media to impose sanctions on countries who resist their pressure or force them to be isolated internationally. Since media are supported either by politicians, capital owners or both, media mainstream is capable to install cultures when it feels necessary, especially the latest one which I call “politics escape” that means the western government responsible of international events are not supposed to be questioned by the public opinion or anybody else in their countries then it provides the situation for them to achieve their political and economic ends easily. This is the art and language of media that establishes some engineered or manipulated plots in favor of dominant powers in the world.
Western politicians and some other wealthy countries some time embark creating terrorist groups to attain their greedy political targets by which they threat other countries and due to two reasons, media production and people’s disinclination in politics, they don’t assume themselves responsive to public opinion.
China has sold to Iran nuclear technology that American officials believe could only be used to create weapons and apparently has shipped components of 300-mile-range missiles to Pakistan. North Korea has had a nuclear weapons program under way for some while and has sold advanced missiles and missile technology to Syria and Iran. The flow of weapons and weapons technology is generally from East Asia to the Middle East. There is, however, some movement in the reverse direction; China has received Stinger missiles from Pakistan. (Huntington, 1993: 47)
A Confucian-Islamic military connection has thus come into being, designed to promote acquisition by its members of the weapons and weapons technologies needed to counter the military power of the West. It may or may not last. (Ibid)
Considering all discussions above, some questions could be asked as follows:
- Shouldn’t the critical media literacy have a close and analytical approach to the political subjects in its curriculum?
- Why is there Huntington’s doctrine, the clash of civilizations, instead of the dialog between civilizations in international relations?
- Why does the name of the terrorist group of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Shaam) intentionally position close to the name of “Islam” in media messages?
- What steps should CML take globally to represent its targets?
In the documents shown above, it is already clear that terrorist groups like “Al-Qaida and Taliban” were born in the period of George W Bush presidency and ISIS terrorist group founded Obama government, each of these groups embarked genocide and massacred a dozen of thousands innocent people.
It looks there should be a syllabus of political knowledge in the CML curriculum because CML is a new science on the run and we expect it some remarkable results in promoting the soul of democracy. It is clear everyone must attempt to spread the culture of politics among people in west because politicians and media have been left alone to do whatever they like.
There is no doubt that media do their job well and disseminate the messages and their production to show they are following the line of democracy, appealing the human rights and voice the justice but their messages are deliberately neutral so they don’t actually represent their tasks since they don’t want to provoke the global consciousness to resist against the destructive politics made by big powers. Media are engineering (manipulating) their messages by choosing audience in two groups; one group are all ordinary people who are excited people and get motivated instantly, let’s call them “the media favored group or active majority”, and the second are those elite or intellectual people or let’s call them “inactive minority” who don’t get convinced by media messages in all countries. The media favored group do and accept whatever media convey to them. Although the society elite forces don’t admit the media messages, they don’t incline to contemplate the news events politically since in west both groups of people have been raised in a society in which media induce them not to think transformatively and not to utilize political challenges in their minds, so they leave politicians alone with the concerning national and international issues.
It seems it is a good idea to add the theoretical themes to the hands-on experiences of CML so that we have some short-term outcomes of CML pedagogy to the students in which politics concept is of main factors giving them enough incentives to think deeply about:
- Why are the human rights not practiced in many countries?
- How should the democracy concern be answered?
- How will it be possible not to have a big digital divide among nations?
- How should everyone be responsible towards each other in a human society?
- To which extent should anybody feel responsive to human agony in any part of the world?
- Do we have to desire the actual human rights to others as we demand it for ourselves?
It is probably true as long as we are not going to have some changes in the framework of CML, we cannot expect our children to have transformative spirituality in their societies. It’s true that global climate change and the militarization in some countries are of main problematic subjects in the world, yet we must carefully know that these subjects are all International politics-based.
To understand the above-mentioned issues we had better review the media literacy and core concepts entity which is corresponding to any other categories as in political subjects. It’s believed that CML core concept is a suitable criterion inasmuch as it works for the political analysis to pave the way and facilitate the condition of media literacy pedagogy to ignite the democratization as well as social justice in students as follows:
- Who created this message?
- What techniques are used to attract my attention?
- How might different people understand this message differently from me?
- What lifestyles, values and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?
- Why was this message sent?
It is clear what media performance does not necessarily correspond to the realities. Media in western societies allege to protect the democracy and human rights by representing the real events while it is actually impossible since there are some covert aspects in events which require everyone’ s political savvy. CML in west pays more attention to the issues like climate change and the need to reduce the global problem of greenhouse gases but the allotment to the greenhouse gas reduction to any country is performed upon political agreements since the commitments are conditioned to the political interactions by which countries seek their political ends. It should be restated that any decision making by groups or governments embeds in politics and we should train students in educating politics savvy whereas we are not having this concept in critical media literacy. It is likely to say that the policy of CML deals conservatively but it’s potential enough to internalize the equality trait, to nurture the equity and justice, to establish humanitarianism and philanthropy, to set up a factual democratization, to contribute the dialog among civilizations instead the clash of civilizations or misanthropy, through some changes to renew the construction of CML for getting a positively comprehensive movement in local, regional and global culture.
Anyone should care about CML since it is believed it’s essentially transformative provided that:
- our students have an accurate concept of social commitment and citizenship
- they don’t be inactive towards media messages
- they have an appropriate knowledge to recognize that media messages do not represent the realities
- they can never be neutral to media contents since they are related to political or capital powers
It can be concluded that media deliver messages where political and capital sources agree, but simultaneously they have to pretend to support democracy in countries because it is against the superpowers’ interests as Ferguson uses the metaphor of an iceberg by which critical educators teach their students to analyze the obvious tip of iceberg, so they train some superficial apprentices. It looks awful when CML educators do not believe the politics category so they won’t be capable to deliver their students how to analyze the reality of media messages and that’s why the present format of CML cannot attain its goals. How can our students criticize over capitalism and politics when they have not been educated in getting a political savvy? They must know that capital and politics are entangled to each other to attain their common goal by utilizing media engineered contents.
Everyone use media messages in daily life because we believe media are informative but these messages are not making any suspicions in our beliefs. The audiences get no concern when they face the media messages since they are not exposed with realities by media, therefore, they don’t care what goes on people in other parts of the world. Doesn’t it look as an anti-democratization policy? Why shouldn’t the global opinion resist against the clashes among different nations which are deliberately imposed to them? Why don’t they object to the battles in Muslim countries emerged recently? They also agree in oppressing Muslims because the media messages are engineered (biased) to direct public opinion where they get their own benefits.
It looks better to schedule a curriculum in CML to enable either educators or students to decipher the basis of political messages knowing that politics and capital are two constituents in need of each other. Any media has a chamber of intelligence where they determine their policies so their final production pass the gates when politics and capital holders approve it. We have to teach our students to recognize the media ownership, but recognition of politics should be seated first. Media productions have only two aims each of which targets to the augmentation of power, capital or either of them.
We should mention our students who the owner of the media is (Sefton.Green, Julian. Skype interview.22 Sep. 2016.), so it is better to cite the “owner & politics makers not policy makers” to make the cultural, economic, military, social and ideological changes in internal and international challenges. If we believe that no media produces any content without incentives, we will perceive not to ignore the element of politics.
It seems the critical media literacy should encompass the political literacy as well as a basic knowledge of economics in CML. In critical media literacy we mostly insist on “media skills and competencies” while it looks suitable to take CML as an inter-curriculum course comprises of political and economic knowledge with other competences and skills. If students get political analysis, undoubtedly they will get the impressive, practical and hands-on results even in short term otherwise we should not expect CML brings us a real democratization, philanthropy and citizenship rights to societies.
It is concluded that media, power and capital are stuck to each other and if educators taught their students the following questions, naturally the stakeholders or state authorities would never disregard their audiences in connection to their decisions:
- How do you define the politics?
- What are the mainstreams of politics in the world?
- Do you think that the communication with the politicians stabilizes democracy in societies, and what if there is not such a contact?
- What happens if citizens inspect their government decision making? Does it affect their behaviors?
- Who/ Which group or political wing is supposed to benefit from politicians’ decision?
- Who/ which group or political wing will lose its interests from politicians’ decision?
- To which extent can the politician’s decisions affect the domain of other countries?
- What are the elements which influence the politicians?
- What kind of these elements (power, economics or politics) may cause internal, local or regional conflicts?
- What can the countries do when they do not have any political, economic and ideological power in relation with others?
- What elements can integrate countries in making unified decisions?
- Why do countries look for alliances in international environment?
- What are the effects of political culture in local, regional and global communities?
- What happens in regional or global conflicts if everyone has a political attitude?
Critical media literacy wants everyone to get different skills and competences to read and interpret a variety of media texts so that he/she get equipped to intelligent tools to cooperate in cultural affairs and societies they live in. Surely students are in need of multiliteracy in 21 century to represent the democratization process so it is believed CML is going to rebuild the education infrastructures, to promote literacy concept and to speed up the democratization in education and societies.
Media get the system of justice in their control. It’s polluting the humanity with shame. It’s time to get up off the couch and we should educate public opinion to understand that media is in the hands of power and capital holders and politics in the world. It’s time to turn off the televisions till CML gets a powerful competence to question and make a big challenge in global politics and deliver this message to humanity. We have to stand up for each other, we have to protect each other, we have to make the power and capital holders stop their destructive activities before they maim, rape and destroy the lives and environment of human beings. They have to believe that someone is watching them. They have to know that someone is prepared to do whatever they take wrong.
It seems these are the messages of CML which should be delivered to the students.
- Lee, Y.L. Alice, et al. (2013). “Conceptual Relationship of Information Literacy and Media Literacy in Knowledge Societies” UNESCO, Paris, France.
- Share, Jeff, ; Thoman, Elizabeth (2007). “Teaching DEMOCRACY: A Media Literacy Approach” NATIONAL CENTER FOR PRESERVATION OF DEMOCRACY, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
- Burn, Andrew, ; Durran, James (2007). “Media Literacy in Schools” SAGE Publication, London, England.
- Kellner, Douglas, ; Share, Jeff(2007). “Critical Media Literacy, Democracy, and the Reconstruction of Education” Center X, New York.
- Funk, Steven, Et, al. (2016). “Handbook of Research on Media Literacy in the Digital Age” Information Science Reference, Hershey PA, U.S.A.
- Buckingham, David,(1998). “THE MAKING OF CITIZENS YOUNG PEOPLE, TELEVISION NEWS AND THE LIMITS OF POLITICS” S. Ralph, J. Langham Brown and T. Lees (eds.) London, England.
- Cockburn, Harry (2016). “Donald Trump calls Barack Obama ‘founder of Isis’ and Hillary Clinton its ‘co-founder”. Independent, 11 Sep.
- Sciutto, Jim, Et. al (2016). “Congress releases secret ’28 pages’ on alleged Saudi 9/11 ties”. CNN politics, 15 July.
- MAZZETTI, MARK, (2016). “In 9/11 Document, View of a Saudi Effort to Thwart U.S. Action on Al Qaeda”. The New York Times, 15 July.
- Huntington, Samuel (1993). “The Clash of Civilization”, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, U.S.A
- (Buckingham, David. Skype interview. 12 Sept. 2016)
- (Sefton.Green, Julian. Skype interview.22 Sep. 2016.)