September 2019: M-Passioned Member Beth Thornton

What do you do?
Many years ago, as a communications professional and mother of three, my desire to better understand the growing influence of media in our lives led me to the Center for Media Literacy (CML) in Los Angeles. I started as a volunteer in 2007 and stayed for 10+ years! Now, as a freelancer, I have become more involved with community media.

Beth Thornton

Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
Currently I am a contributor to Issues & Ideas, a public radio show on the central coast of California. I interview a variety of people in education, media, and technology to explore how we learn and communicate in today’s digital environment. My segments are geared for a local audience, and I try to offer ways for listeners to find additional information and resources in their own communities. I especially enjoy talking with librarians. Librarians have always championed critical thinking skills. 

Why is media literacy important to you?
Media literacy is important because we interact with massive amounts of information on a daily basis and it profoundly influences our life decisions. I tell everyone I meet to please make a habit of asking the 5 key questions before hitting the send, share, or buy button.   

What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I’m excited about the momentum in K-12 education. Many states across the country are adopting legislation to teach media literacy skills in the classroom. Beginning in 2017, I traveled to Sacramento on several occasions to voice CML’s support for media literacy education in California schools. It took two years and many revisions for a bill to pass. The signed legislation requires the California Department of Education to maintain a web site of media literacy resources and professional development materials for educators. It’s a first step and I appreciate that California recognized the need to give teachers some assistance and training for media literacy. 

Why did you become a NAMLE member, what benefits do you see to membership, and how will it support your work?
I attended my first NAMLE conference several years ago and they keep getting bigger and better. In Chicago (2017), I was invited to present with Tessa Jolls and Dr. Bobbie Eisenstock, two long-time media literacy advocates and leaders in the field. Our session was on implementing student projects for Media Literacy Week. Media Literacy Week is a great opportunity to showcase the essential need for media literacy education, and I applaud NAMLE’s work in making it a reality in the U.S.  

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