What do you do?
I am a media producer with a background in radio, television, and independent film. Currently, I am the producer of The Dr. Laura Berman Show on Oprah Radio. I’m also painstakingly working to complete my thesis (about media literacy, of course) in the Media Studies graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. My sights are set on an August, 2010 graduation.
Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy…
I am in the middle of an 8-week program with a dynamic group of high school students in the Chicago area. Each week, the students are welcomed into a professional media environment where they are mentored through the production of their own individual 1-minute audio vignettes. Each vignette is meant to represent something the student is passionate about — a message s/he wants to share with the world. As the students work through the different aspects of audio production, they’re encouraged to dialogue about the media they’re encountering on a daily basis, and challenged to become more active consumers as they learn to deconstruct and rethink their relationship with media.
What is your favorite media?
I liken this question to asking a mother which one of her children is her favorite! The impact media have had on this world – good, bad, and everything in between – really astounds me. That said, it’s impossible for me to choose one; they’re all my favorite forms for different reasons. I have SO much respect for print media/the written word and those who are talented enough to string words together in a way that teaches me something or exercises my imagination. Audio is an incredible form of media because it can easily span from being intimate and personal to a tool for creating an experience that can unify the masses. Whether through music, talk, or some other form of produced sound, audio allows connection with individuals even in the most private of settings. Certainly, visual media can bring all of this together into multi-layered, simplified messaging. And as digital technology forces media producers to adjust to consumer power – by delivering content when and how consumers want it—I’m continually fascinated by what’s to come next.
Why is media literacy important to you?
I’ve been working in the media industry for 16 years now. But a couple of years ago I found myself teaching and realized that there is a disconnection between young people and the rest of us. Many adults are struggling to keep pace with the language and protocol of new media while young people are pretty oblivious to how much their lives are shaped by media, and how susceptible they are to the influence. I was surprised to learn that many people teaching about media didn’t have much experience with media production and therefore didn’t really understand the details of how media programming is put together. I think it’s difficult to teach media (or how to deconstruct it) if you don’t understand the construction. That’s how I discovered the need for me to use my professional media production skills and experience to bridge that gap. Honestly, I was thrilled to learn that there was a term for making sense of this heavily mediated world. It’s important to me to help convey how vital it is for the definition of literacy to change.
How has NAMLE supported you?
The NAMLE website has been a fantastic resource for me throughout my studies and field work efforts. But frankly, I want more. I need to connect with more NAMLE members – more people in the trenches fighting to arm young people with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. We have to join forces to really have an impact. With that in mind I’ve decided to help NAMLE help me. I’m putting some energy into the organization as a volunteer for the Membership Committee, and doing whatever I can to activate NAMLE on local levels. And in the process, I’m looking forward to getting to know my M-Passioned comrades around the country.
Want to recommend an M-Passioned NAMLE member who should be in our next feature? Contact Kelly Mendoza, Membership Chair, with your suggestion.