2003 Conference 2003, Baltimore: Literacy and Liberty: Rights, Roles and Responsibilities in a Media Age

NEMC 2003 Conference LogoNMEC 2003, held in Baltimore, explored the relationship between mass media, new technologies and responsible citizenship in a democracy. This broad theme gave us the opportunity to make the case for media literacy as it applies to traditional and emerging concepts of literacy and enabled us to help our members increase their understanding of liberty and First Amendment issues including the rights, roles and responsibilities of individuals, institutions, corporations and communities.

Linking the Literacies
We fully involved leaders from civic, cultural, educational and industry organizations with an increasing interest in media literacy and civic education. These included the National Council for the Social Studies, the National PTA, the Maryland State Department of Education and State PTA, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, the International Reading Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Creative Coalition, and the American Library Association. Conference participants benefited from opportunities to learn about how the concepts of “literacy” and “citizenship” are understood from many different vantage points.

Youth Voices and Visions
We spotlighted youth development programs that emphasize how media production opportunities in a community setting can help young people make connections between personal creativity and responsible citizenship. The Baltimore Youth Media Advocacy Coalition was a key organization in enabling local youth participation at the conference, and the Modern Media Makers – youth from all across the country – were again the stars of our show.

Health Rights and Responsibilities in a Technology Age
While media literacy can address issues of national health such as cynicism, fear and detachment from the body politic, it is also true that media literacy addresses individual health issues. How free can one be if addicted? How literate are our decisions if we are flooded with advertisements and poor quality websites promising fast instant relief from a plethora of problems by simply taking this pill or that treatment? With participation from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and other health organizations who have developed programs and materials that position media literacy as one component of a healthy lifestyle, health educators learned many ways to implement media literacy in the health and prevention field.

International Perspectives
NMEC 2003 featured presenters from every continent except Antartica! Sweden, China, United Kingdom, Canada, Taiwan, Italy, Argentina, South Africa, and New Zealand were just some of the countries represented. Barrie McMahon from the Ministry of Education in Western Australia delivered a plenary address. As a member of the ministry he has both the classroom and the administrative experience to talk broadly about media education, which he knows from an Australian and an international perspective. In addition, Candian leaders in media education again joined us to share their accumulated wisdom – and of course close the conference with Barry Duncan’s famous Call of the Loon!

AMLA President Faith Rogow’s Opening Remarks for NMEC 2003, covered the growth of media literacy as a field, the effectiveness of the coalition model, the recent FCC decision, and impatience as a virtue.

Read Liz Thoman’s reflections on the conference, originally.published in CML CONNECT, newsletter of the Center for Media Literacy.

View AMLA Board Member Frank Baker’s online photo gallery of NMEC 2003!

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