Conference History: Pre-2001 Activities

In 1997, the Partnership for Media Education (PME) was incorporated primarily to facilitate the holding of national conferences for professional development in the field of media literacy education. The original idea was to hold conferences in the “knowledge dissemination” model established by federal agencies in the prevention field. The result was the conferences in 1998 and 1999, as well as several events hosted by the PME at Summit 2000 in Toronto in May 2000.

At the conclusion of the 1998 conference in Colorado Springs there was an open meeting to explore the future of the PME. Sixty people attended, and many offered to help plan another conference. As a result, the PME’s board grew and changed, and hosted the next conference in St. Paul. At St. Paul, there was another breakfast and another 50-60 people came, leading to a further increased board and the goal of exploring how to turn the PME into a national membership organization. After hosting events for U.S. educators at the Canadian Summit 2000 conference in May, the PME officially became the Alliance for a Media Literate America in the fall of 2000, with its founding conference planned for June 2001 in Austin, Texas.

1995: National Media Literacy Conference

Sept. 22-24, 1995 in Boone, NC
First large-scale media literacy conference organized at Appalachian State University by Dr. David Considine in collaboration with the National Telemedia Council, a 500+ member organization out of Madison, WI. The conference attracted nearly 300 influential university level media educators along with long-time grass-roots advocates. Key speakers included David Bianculli, Roderick Hart, David Buckingham, Susan Jeffords, John Pungente, SJ and Dr. Milton Chen plus dozens of concurrent workshops. The conference was self-funded through registration fees and major in-kind contributions by students and staff at Appalachian State.

1996: 2nd National Media Literacy Conference

October 3-6, 1996 in Los Angeles, CA
Under the theme: “Citizenship in a Media Age: Media Literacy and the Common Good,” the Center for Media Literacy, a national organization with a reputation for publication and distribution of high quality curriculum materials, hosted a conference for 350 participants at UCLA. In addition to over 40 workshops conducted by emerging media literacy leaders from around the US, popular events included a keynote panel featuring teachers interviewing professional screenwriters from the Writers Guild of America, West, a conversation with Los Angeles area TV critics.

The conference also featured a series of “mini-plenaries” with leading authors and advocates in the media field: Susan Douglas, Sut Jhally, Leslie Savan, George Gerbner, Susan Faludi, Robert McChesney, Barbara Wilson, Jean Kilbourne and many others. A videotape from First Lady Hillary Clinton opened the conference. Funding came from registrations as well as start-up contributions from the cable and computer industries as well as private foundations.

1997: PME formed

In 1997, the Partnership for Media Education (PME) was established primarily to create an umbrella organzation to facilitate the holding of national conferences for professional development in the field of media literacy education. The original idea was to hold conferences in the “knowledge dissemination” model established by federal agencies in the prevention field. The result was the conferences in 1998 and 1999, as well as several events hosted by the PME at Summit 2000 in Toronto in May 2000.

1998: National Media Literacy Conference

June 28 – July 1 in Colorado Springs, CO
“A Paradigm for Public Health” was the theme of the 1998 conference which attracted over 450 participants including long-time and knowledgeable media literacy educators from all levels rubbing shoulders with new enthusiasts from the health and prevention fields. With significant funding from federal agencies in the prevention field as well as private foundations, the conference was able to attract national press and feature leading speakers.

National Public Radio journalist Ray Suarez keynoted the conference along with researcher Erica Austin and television historian Robert Thompson. A pre-conference introductory day – “Media Literacy 101” – proved popular along with dozens of workshops and panels featuring national leaders: Jackson Katz, Jane Brown, Victor Strasburger, MD, Joanne Cantor, John DeGraaf, Ana Nogales, Katy Abel and Paul Klite.

1999 NMEC in St. Paul, MN

June 27 – 30, 1999 in St. Paul, MN
Teachers, youth leaders, religious and community leaders, prevention specialists, and others joined together for the St. Paul conference: “Taking Charge in Changing Times” – the most comprehensive US media literacy conference yet. With a focus on media literacy in K-12 education, the conference was a literal “who’s who” of US and Canadian media literacy leaders, including Wally Bowen, David Considine, Frank Dawson, Barry Duncan, Andrew Garrison, Ren�e Hobbs, Deborah Leveranz, Duane Neil, John Pungente, Karon Sherarts, Elizabeth Thoman, Fran Trampiets, Kathleen Tyner, Chris Worsnop, and many more. Media production was a major subtheme with a day-long preconference session on “Hands-On Video Production in the Classroom” and a panel of youth media makers showcasing their video visions of the world. Inspiring keynote speakers included:

  • Paul Friedlander, from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland on “Rock Around the Class: Approaching Meaning in Music.”
  • Gunther Kress, leading scholar in the field of media education and professor of education at the University of London, on “Educating for an Unknowable Future.”
  • Ellen Hayakawa, international consultant to individuals, corporations and governments on spirituality in the workplace, on “Love the Work: Sustaining the Soul in Changing Times.”

2000: Summit 2000

May 13-17, 2000 in Toronto, Ontario
As part of the one-time international conference organized by Canadian media literacy leaders: Summit 2000 – Children, Youth and the Media: Beyond the Millennium,” the PME sponsored a series of late afternoon sessions specifically for the 300+ US participants at the conference that attracted 1300 people from all over the world. A networking reception was held on Saturday followed on Sunday by an “Outstanding Achievement Awards” ceremony to three PBS series and 3 cable television series which integrate media literacy principles in shows aimed at children and teens. “The State of Media Education in the 50 States” was Monday’s panel session, followed on Tuesday by an open forum on “Laying the Foundation: Principles and Practices of Media Literacy.”

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