While conducting some research, I came across Kellner and Share's 2007 article "Critical media literacy is not an option." This thought provoking article does a fantastic job of highlighting and critiquing four approaches to teaching media literacy. The protectionist approach, media arts education approach, media literacy movement approach, and finally, critical media literacy. As social scientists, they advocate for the critical media literacy approach that combines the other three, but emphasizes a cultural studies component.
Kellner and Share argue that media literacy should be taught to understand the relationship between power and information, and that their approach, critical media literacy, "focuses on ideology critique and analyzing the politics of representation of crucial dimensions of gender, race, class, and sexuality; incorporating alternative media production and expanding textual analysis to include issues of social context, control, resistance, and pleasure." They continue to suggest that critical media literacy also "expands literacy to include information literacy, technical literacy, multimodal literacy, and other attempts to broaden print literacy concepts to include different tools and modes of communicating (62)."
What I appreciate about their article is that they lay out a very convincing argument for not decoupling media literacy from critical analysis. They are particularly critical of those in the media literacy movement, arguing that teaching media literacy from an apolitical perspective lose the opportunity to delve deeper into the underlying roots and rationale of the messages communicated through media. They suggest that alternative media and media communication technology can be used to empower those that are marginalized or feel misrepresented.
They discuss the challenges of developing curriculum, and suggest some of the constructivist, collaborative, benefits of producing media and students' being actively engaged democratically through the creation of alternative media , beyond the classroom. Certainly, we saw examples of this type of communication at the heart of both parties during last election.
One of the challenges going forward will be balancing the need for fundamental media literacy education across broad disciplines, and encouraging students/faculty to think critically about social issues. A good example of this philosophy can already be found on campus in the PSTL FYI and associated projects.
At the minimum, this is a nice foundational article to help frame the discussion of media literacy approaches, competencies, and standards.
For a complimentary article from Kellner and Share, check out: Media Literacy in the US (2005) http://www.springerlink.com/content/q02065l275547055/fulltext.pdf.