Media Alert: Massachusetts Passes Media Literacy Bill for Schools

NWARM thought you would be interested in this bill regarding Media Literacy in the Schools in Massachusetts just passed (Bill S.213) – An Act Concerning Media Literacy in Schools and perhaps you would want to support such a campaign here in Washington state. The group who sponsored the legislation is interested in seeing if they can help in other states.  While it focuses on teaching children the skills for “accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating in the 21st media culture” (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2014), these skills can spill over into their own home and community, teaching these children how to better look at these cartoons, videos, etc. and learn what is fake and what is real, and use their critical thinking process on what to apply to real life and what to leave alone.

The Massachusetts Bill S.213 states the following:

SECTION 1. Chapter 69 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 1N the following section:Section 1O. To equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating in the 21st century media culture, and to ensure students develop the independent thinking and critical analysis skills needed to navigate the messages of a media-saturated world, the department of elementary and secondary education shall authorize and assist in the implementation of programs on teaching media literacy. The components of media literacy covered in the program shall include: Accessing and evaluating information from a variety of internet and other media sources; Analyzing how media messages, including advertising, are constructed and for what purposes; Evaluating media’s explicit and implicit messages, how messages can be interpreted, how values and points of view are included and excluded, and how media can influence ideas and behaviors; Creating media and messages using a variety of media tools, including the use of words, images, sound and other multi-media tools; Participating in a global media culture.The department shall develop standards and objectives for media literacy for grades kindergarten to 12, inclusive, within the existing curriculum. The department shall make available to school districts a list of resources to aid in the selection of materials and resources that contain substantive provisions on media literacy, and will ensure that approved media literacy training opportunities are made available for professional development points within the teacher recertification program.

This Bill could be instrumental in teaching children important critical thinking skills, not only with video games and cartoons, but with any type of television they watch from the time they start learning these skills and throughout life. These skills can teach these children to start looking at media sources in a different way, especially young children who want to fit in with the crowd in middle school and high school. They can help them understand that models are air brushed to make them look better and delete their deficiencies, as well as help young women just coming into puberty understand that society is not interested in women who are skin and bones, but a woman who is strong and confident and believes in themselves. I believe that these media literacy efforts could possibly thwart different types of “growing pains” that children and young adults experience now-a-days and instill a sense of self worth by understanding that media is a portal to get a message out in order to sell money and basically control the populace in different ways.

For details go to:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2014). Bill S.213 – An Act Concerning Media

Literacy in Schools. Retrieved February 26, 2014 from

Opportunity to support independent media about economic justice

The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, A Charitable Foundation and Ron & Debbie Reed are hosting the community screening where proceeds will be donated to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Spokane. This screening is being produced in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the holiday that celebrates his courage, strength, and his life.

A discussion about community action to resolve inequality issues will follow the screening.

The screening will be held on January 20th, 2014 at 6:00pm at Spokane’s Bing Crosby Theater. The Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund will match all proceeds raised by the event for the 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Spokane to help feed the hungry this winter.

Sponsors include the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund, Community Building Foundation, The Inlander, Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, Eco Depot, TicketsWest, PacifiCAD, Spokane Alliance, Laborers Local 238, Too Far North Productions, David Mercury Advertising, Hamilton Studio, Ron & Debbie Reed, KYRS Thin Air Community Radio, Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, Center for Justice, Teamsters Local Union No. 690 and Surviving the Future Film Group.

“Our community is no exception when it comes to stagnant wages and economic inequality”, said Ron Reed, the main force behind bringing this screening to Spokane. “And with food stamp needs and poverty growing in our community, benefiting 2nd Harvest wasn’t just an after-thought, but is a critical need. Our decision to honor Dr. King through this effort is wholly based upon his lifelong fight for equality and justice for all people.”

INEQUALITY FOR ALL is a documentary film directed by Jacob Kornbluth. The film examines widening income inequality in the United States. The film is presented by American economist, author and Professor Robert Reich. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in the Documentary Competition section, and won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking. It also won the Audience Award Winner, Best Documentary Film Traverse City Film Festival 2013.

INEQUALITY FOR ALL allows viewers to start with little or no understanding of what it means for the U.S. to be economically imbalanced, and walk away with a comprehensive and significantly deeper sense of the issue and what can be done about it.

Advance tickets are available online through For group tickets or more information, call 509-326-8683. Admission the night of the event will be available for a suggested donation based upon space availability. Don’t miss this opportunity to educate yourself about the problems the widening inequality gap poses to our economy and our country.

A Hornet’s Nest Over Violent Video Games


Repost from the Chronicle of Higher Education

By James D. Ivory and Malte Elson

When the relative peace and safety that many of us enjoy are blighted by horrific  crimes, like the recent shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, the public naturally wants to know why. In recent years, the urge to make sense of such crimes has led to the identification of a culprit: Violent video games, many people believe, cause violent behavior. Among social scientists interested in media effects, the topic is a hornet’s nest.

In 2005 the American Psychological Association released a policy statement claiming that research has consistently found that violent video games influence various outcomes like aggressive thoughts and behavior and “angry feelings.” As we write, a committee of psychologists appointed by the association is reviewing the statement to consider revising or replacing it. We are two of more than 200 scholars from psychology, communications, criminology, and other fields who have signed an open scholars’ statementurging the committee to repeal the 2005 document’s strong claims. We believe that the APA needs to tread more carefully into the politics of the public discussion of research.

The reason is simple: The evidence is mixed. There is a lot of cleverly designed research exploring potential effects of violent games on laboratory outcomes—such as whether a person completes an unfinished story with an aggressive ending or how much hot sauce a subject chooses to give a stranger to eat—that is only abstractly related to truly antisocial aggression. There are also large-scale surveys examining correlations between respondents’ game use and their reports of delinquency and misbehavior. Some studies find such relationships; some do not. Over the years, the latter have become more common in the growing body of research. Most relevant to social concerns, little or no evidence exists to show that violent video games can be identified as a unique contributor to serious violent crime.

But the research culture surrounding violent video games has become so contentious that scholarly differences of opinion have created an impasse that restricts reasonable discussion in public and in academe. Scholars disagree about what research should be considered to assess effects, who is competent enough to draw conclusions, and how much of a consensus on the topic exists. The imbroglio provides a case study in how the cold equations of science can be contorted by the human elements in academe.

What can we learn from this mess? For starters, there is a chasm between the answers about violent video games that society seeks and the answers that research provides. Society wants answers about antisocial behavior in real life; the mixed bag of laboratory studies can’t provide those. Society wants to know what to do; current research about violent crime and video games doesn’t add up to enough evidence to support policy recommendations. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for researchers to use terms like “aggression” loosely when they describe their findings about laboratory outcomes, allowing a lay audience and policy makers to misinterpret their conclusions.

Second, some researchers tend to selectively report findings, claiming that the effects of violent video games on aggression are as pronounced as the effects of smoking on lung cancer, or of condom use on HIV risk. In some cases, “average” findings from meta-analyses are used to support claims about consistent effects, but meta-analyses tend to “split the difference” among widely discrepant findings. That, then, is often misreported as a consistent pattern of results across a large number of studies. The fact that the social sciences are plagued by a publication bias (the tendency to publish conclusive studies over inconclusive studies) may further sway meta-analyses.

Lastly, and most troubling, there has emerged a pronounced tendency for some researchers to denigrate the competence—and even the character—of scholars who are unconvinced about the social harms of video-game violence. Sometimes skeptics are likened to deniers of climate change (an area where there is more consensus); at other times, they are called “industry apologists.”Articles have been written comparing career accomplishments and publication records of researchers supporting and challenging claims of negative video-game effects, mistaking quantity of publications and journal impact factors for quality of research, and asserting that early-career scholars with short résumés are unqualified to comment on the matter.

The lesson for those involved in any debated area of research is clear: When the arguments stray from the science to the résumés of those discussing it, we run the risk of perpetuating established views and celebrating former research accomplishments more than new knowledge.

Like many people involved in this debate, we want to support research and policies that lead to reduced violent crime. But that goal is not served by jumping to conclusions with public-policy statements that outreach the evidence, spurring mistaken efforts by legislators to exert political pressure on scientists and encourage specific outcomes. Even if we want a culprit to blame, we cannot ignore inconclusive research on video games and violence.

We can understand why violent video games have been a suspect in the search for answers to societal violence, but so far the research has not supported the indictment. It is therefore inappropriate to list violent video games as a known risk factor for social violence along with more proven factors like previous mental-health problems or a history of family violence. It is improper to portray games as presenting a public-health crisis.

While researchers continue to explore the topic, we would do well to keep our minds on the principles of science and maintain a healthy respect for all of those practicing it. Otherwise, we will let an important societal question become an aggressive academic game.

James D. Ivory is an associate professor of communication at Virginia Tech. Malte Elson is a research associate in the department of communication and doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Münster in Germany.