Member Spotlight: Jenna Meleedy

Jenna is a Social Media Intern at NAMLE and a News Literacy Ambassador at the Penn State News Literacy Initiative.

What do you do?

At NAMLE, I help engage people with exciting new media literacy initiatives and discussions across our digital platforms. As a News Literacy Ambassador, I lead public outreach efforts with a team of student representatives and media effects researchers to advance news literacy at the Penn State campus. I lead public outreach efforts, guest lectures and workshops.

What is your latest work or project in media literacy?

I recently taught the “Media Literacy Playground” session of the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE) Digital Citizenship Summer Webinar Series. The series is designed to help K-12 educators implement informed and ethical digital practices in their classrooms. As a student myself, I centered my session around the perspective of young people who grew up in the “wild west” of the internet and the consequences of self-taught internet use due to a lack of formal media literacy education. Before introducing media literacy into the classroom, I believe it is key for educators to gain the self-efficacy needed to connect with students through media literacy and overcome generational divides.

Why is media literacy important to you?

For me, media literacy acts as an escape from the chaos of the digital world. My interest began during the COVID-19 quarantine, where – like many – social media overconsumption wore me down to the toxicity of the U.S.’s sociopolitical climate. As a sixteen-year-old stuck in my room, I felt I had no political voice. I was baffled watching political polarization grow and spread like wildfire. Media literacy, I found, gave me the first clear explanation behind the phenomena I was witnessing. Learning about mis- and dis- information and hyper-personalized algorithms felt like uncovering a root cause of democracy’s erosion. Media literacy is the best weapon we have to combat political radicalization. For me, it acts as a source of hope for the future of our democracy – and in a political climate where it is so easy to get burnt out, hope is sorely needed.

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

Honestly, I’m just excited more people know what it is! As exhausting as the last few political cycles have been, they have led to growing public interest in civic engagement and media literacy –– which go hand-and-hand. More and more K-12 school districts are throwing out outdated practices and implementing media literacy in their curriculum, which will equip more and more students with the digital literacy skills necessary to nurture their mental health and practice civic responsibility. It’s an exciting time to be part of this rapidly growing community.

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 to learn more about this field and decide if it was an academic/career path I wanted to commit to. I’ve since found that the media literacy community is MUCH bigger than I anticipated, and have connected with people whose values and long-term goals align with mine. The media literacy community is bursting with creative projects, compassionate ideas and unrelenting optimism for our future.

Connect with Jenna:

The views and opinions expressed in the M-Passioned Member blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the M-Passioned Member blog is to highlight our members and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.