May 2015: M-Passioned Member Morgan Jaffe


1) What do you do?

I just moved from Massachusetts to Olympia, Washington to start my job as the Training & Operations Manager for KAOS 89.3 FM, a community radio station based at the I teach community and student DJs how to operate a board and go on air as well as make sure that the station runs smoothly from day to day. KAOS is a really wonderful station – we have a free-form format (so DJs have a lot of flexibility) and focus on programming that includes music and discussion that is traditionally overlooked by many mainstream media outlets, from women’s issues to Native American and Spanish culture and more. KAOS is a great place for both students and community members to perfect their skills and have their voices heard.

I come from an eclectic background. I got really involved with radio during college, but after graduation I started my Masters program planning to teach high school English. During my student teaching I loved incorporating media (and what I didn’t know at the time was media literacy) into my lesson plans. Regents and testing were always rearing their ugly heads, and although I loved working with students I felt like something was missing. I switched my program halfway through and ended up graduating with my Masters in Teaching & Curriculum with a focus in digital media and literacy. Since graduate school I’ve worked in different positions discussing  traditional literacy, digital literacy, radio, podcasting, and film and creating all kinds of media. From teaching students in elementary school to adult learners, doing after school programs or professional development, and conducting research and writing.


2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.

I just moved to Olympia and started my job on April 1st, but I’m already making plans to start incorporating more youth media and community outreach into the station – I’m picturing short summer sessions and/or after school programs for high school students to write, interview, and record their own radio stories; professional development to work with Olympia teachers to incorporate critical listening and digital storytelling skills into their classrooms; and more research on the intersections of radio and media literacy.

 I’ve also been muddling around with a podcast idea in my head for about a year now that would combine media literacy with pop culture. I’m still fleshing it out and don’t want to give too much of it away, but hopefully you’ll be able to hear some of that in the next year or so.


 3) Why is media literacy important to you?

Media literacy is important to me because it personally allows me to take all of my media interests, from radio, television, films, books, art, and the internet and combine it with my passion for history and the social and cultural context of all types of media and pop culture. I think media literacy is a good way to educate people with real learning and good fun. Additionally, I think that media literacy is incredibly crucial for today’s society so that people from all types of backgrounds can think critically about the kind of media that they interact with so consistently. 


 4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?

I’m excited that media literacy is becoming so much more commonplace in K-12 schools. Media literacy education gives more students the opportunity to experience an education focused on critical thinking skills that will prepare them for what they are encountering in their every day lives. I think it really encompasses all of the multimodal types of thinking, creating, and learning, and we need to focus on that more than standardized testing. Media literacy and the ability to really be critical about the media that is constantly surrounding you (or that you’re creating) is very important. I also love the type of collaboration that comes with media literacy – and not just between students, but between students, teachers, librarians, administrators, media makers, and non-profits.


5) Why did you become a NAMLE member – what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?

I became a NAMLE member when I was working with Renee Hobbs and the rest of the Media Education Lab team in 2013 when I was a Research Assistant there. I met a wonderfully tight knit group of educators and media makers throughout the Rhode Island community, and I feel that’s really what NAMLE is all about – building a community and helping to start discussions on a local and national level whenever we can. NAMLE has given me tremendous opportunities to network with others and gain insight to wonderful resources: organizations, conferences, and people as well as information, ideas, and online communities and websites.

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