City Lights in conjunction with Project Censored and the Media Revolution Collective present
The Media and Us: Critical Media Literacy and Engaged Politics
A day-long symposium style event comprised of seven sessions aimed to explore critical media literacy.
Based on The Media and Me: A Guide to Critical Media Literacy for Young People
by Project Censored and the Media Revolution Collective
published as a joint production of the Censored Press and Seven Stories Press
At a time when pundits and politicians alike promote fearful understandings of “fake news” and the negative impacts of social media, this symposium aims to provide participants with the skills to resist the lures of sensational disinformation and omnipresent advertising. Drawing on their decades of teaching experience, the speakers will introduce key ideas to critical media literacy, urging us to look beneath the surface and beyond the screens in order to create an honest, accurate, brighter, and more inclusive future. With engaging hands-on exercises readers learn to question, critique, and talk back to biased messaging, both subtle and overt, that the media feed them daily. Critical media literacy becomes a call to action, urging all of us to engage with the media landscape and become a well-informed citizenry.
All sessions are free but require registration.
Opening Plenary: Looking Beneath the Surface – 11:00 am Pacific / 2pm Eastern
The Project Censored Media Revolution Collective, co-authors of The Media and Me, will discuss how they came to write this book together and why critical media literacy (CML) should be a major focus of public pedagogy and curriculum for young people. Themes include freedom of expression, freedom of information, critical thinking, democratic government and civic engagement, media democracy, digital citizenship, and civil and human rights–all through a CML lens.
with Members of the Project Censored Media Revolution Collective
Break-Out #1: Representation, Access, and Power – 12:15 pm Pacific / 3:15 p.m. Eastern
The establishment media platform, the powerful, those who control political, economic, and other major social institutions. Here, it is key that young audiences engage in linguistic and structural analysis to detect biases along intersectional lines while deconstructing corporate and state narratives that work to marginalize diverse populations along race, gender, LQBTQIA+ issues, class matters, and more. Critical media literacy illuminates a path supportive of civil and human rights, it diversifies representation in media and broadens access to media that center power in we the people, not elite entities.
with Reina Robinson, Nicholas Baham III, Kate Horgan, Maria Cecilia Soto
Break-Out #2: Engaging Teachers and Young People – 1:15 p.m. Pacific / 4:15 p.m. Eastern
Public education has become an ideological battlefield where censorship is a chief weapon. This session addresses K-12 level education and techniques for training teachers in critical media literacy as a pedagogy that eschews censorship and embraces diversity. Critical pedagogy, multiple literacies, strategies for working with younger students, as well as working within schools from an “insider” perspective, will be the focus of this session.
with Allison Butler, Ben Boyington, Reina Robinson, Kate Horgan
Midday Plenary on Critical Pedagogy – 3:00 p.m. Pacific / 6pm Eastern
Critical thinking is integral to a critical media literacy framework. Understanding logical fallacies and cognitive biases helps us not only detect propaganda and disinformation, but also assists in determining the validity of our own beliefs and positions. Applying this analytical process to media and media impacts on society is key to becoming a critically media literate citizen.
Mickey Huff moderates a conversation with the Collective on CML pedagogy as activism
Break-Out #3: Digital Literacy and Advertising – 4:15 p.m. Pacific / 7:15 pm Eastern
We live in a time of “digital natives” (youth growing up in a digital world). Many people assume that because young people understand how to use new digital technologies and tools they also, by extension, are information literate. Time and again, this has been proven not to be the case. Users of digital technologies benefit from developing digital literacy skills that protect them from being used by Big Tech companies. Themes of digital literacy, algorithmic literacy and gatekeeping, surveillance in higher education, and best practices for reducing harm in digital spaces and personal device use will be addressed.
with Nicholas Baham III, Ben Boyington, Andy Lee Roth, Nolan Higdon, Reina Robinson
Break-Out #4: News Literacy and Journalism – 5:15 p.m. Pacific / 8:15 pm Eastern
Understanding news and journalism are keys to being a media literate citizen. In an era of moral panics over “fake” news, critical media literacy education can be our best defense. This session will highlight the work of Project Censored in the classroom, discuss the ongoing importance of Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model, analyze the attention economy and the role of advertising in news media, and illustrate how following a journalistic code of ethics can empower an independent and truly free press.
with Mickey Huff, Nolan Higdon, Andy Lee Roth
Concluding Roundtable—What You Can Do! Putting Knowledge into Action – 6:15 p.m. Pacific / 9:15 pm Eastern
The Media and Us concludes with a resource guide that showcases critical media literacy education resources as a call to action. The authors review ten things anyone can do to develop more mindful media use and consumption habits, discuss solutions journalism, and call for more student involvement in media creation. They encourage teachers to develop a more student-centered curriculum that addresses representation, access, and power while reminding them to always look beneath the surface, beyond the screens, to a brighter, more inclusive future.
with The Project Censored Media Revolution Collective
About the Project Censored Media Revolution Collective
With decades of experience in critical media literacy, the authors include NICHOLAS BAHAM III, professor and chair of Ethnic Studies at California State University East Bay; BEN BOYINGTON, high school educator and critical media literacy advocate; ALLISON BUTLER, director of the Media Literacy Certificate Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; NOLAN HIGDON, professor of history and media studies, and author of The Anatomy of Fake News; KATE HORGAN, an undergraduate studying Communication and Psychology in the Commonwealth Honors College at University of Massachusetts Amherst; MICKEY HUFF, director of Project Censored, a media watchdog that promotes independent journalism, critical media literacy, and freedom of expression; REINA ROBINSON, founder of the Center for Urban Excellence, a non-profit that fosters resilience in system-involved youth; ANDY LEE ROTH, a sociologist who coordinates Project Censored’s national network of students researching important but underreported news stories; and MARIA CECILIA SOTO, an undergraduate studying Applied Linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
ABOUT THE PRESENTERS
Nicholas Baham III is Professor and Chair in the Department of Ethnic Studies at California State University East Bay. He is the author of The Coltrane Church: Apostles of Sound, Agents of Social Justice, the co-author of The Podcaster’s Dilemma: Decolonizing Podcasters in the Era of Surveillance Capitalism with Nolan Higdon, and the co-editor and co-author of Love, Knowledge, Revolution: A Comparative Ethnic Studies Reader.
Ben Boyington is an advocate for integrating critical media literacy into K–12 schools, a high school educator, and the father of two teenagers who are immersed in the worlds of video games, Discord, and Twitch, as well as anime and other visual storytelling. (They also read books now and then, and occasionally join their parents for dinner.) A member of the Media Freedom Foundation board and the former vice president of the Action Coalition for Media Education, Ben designs and conducts teacher trainings with Mass Media Literacy, in partnership with Allison Butler and Nolan Higdon. In his daily life, he works with high school students on self-directed learning and builds student-centered programming for a rural high school in Vermont. An avid media consumer, with a particular interest in film and television, he also enjoys music and podcasts, but eschews video games because they have too many buttons now.
Allison Butler is a senior lecturer, the director of undergraduate advising, and the director of the Media Literacy Certificate Program in the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches courses on critical media literacy and representations of education in the media. Butler co-directs the grassroots organization Mass Media Literacy (www.massmedialiteracy.org), where she develops and runs teacher trainings for the inclusion of critical media literacy in K–12 schools. She is on the board of Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) and serves as the vice president of the board of the Media Freedom Foundation. She holds an MA and a PhD from New York University. She is the author of numerous articles and books on media literacy, most recently, Educating Media Literacy: The Need for Teacher Education in Critical Media Literacy (Brill, 2020) and Key Scholarship in Media Literacy: David Buckingham (Brill, 2021), and the co-author of Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning, a critical media literacy accompaniment to the open-source social studies textbook Building Democracy for All (EdTech Books, 2021).
Nolan Higdon is an author and university lecturer of history and media studies. Higdon’s areas of concentration include podcasting, digital culture, news media history, and critical media literacy. Higdon is a founding member of the Critical Media Literacy Conference of the Americas. He sits on the boards of the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) and Northwest Alliance for Alternative Media and Education. He is the author of The Anatomy of Fake News: A Critical News Literacy Education (University of California Press, 2020). His most recent publications include The Podcaster’s Dilemma: Decolonizing Podcasters in the Era of Surveillance Capitalism (Wiley, 2021) with Nicholas Baham III and Let’s Agree to Disagree: A Critical Thinking Guide to Communication, Conflict Management, and Critical Media Literacy (Routledge, 2022) with Mickey Huff, as well as the co-author of United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About It) (City Lights Books, 2019) also with Mickey Huff. He is a longtime contributor to the Project Censored yearbook series. In addition, he has been a contributor to Truthout and CounterPunch; and a source of expertise for the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and numerous television news outlets.
Kate Horgan is an undergraduate student and researcher in the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, studying communication and psychology with a certificate in media literacy. Kate discovered her passion for media literacy during her time with the Center for Curriculum Redesign where she created motion graphics to teach critical thinking skills to K–12 learners. She currently works at UMass’s radio station, WMUA 91.1 FM, as the news operator, orchestrating daily news broadcasts and audio features for their podcast, Beats Per Minute. Kate has previously assisted fellow author Allison Butler in pop culture research for the chapter “Judgment Based on Gender; Patriarchy as a Form of Censorship” in Censorship, Digital Media and the Global Crackdown on Freedom of Expression. When she is not catching up on the latest pop culture content, Kate enjoys crafting, gardening, and exploring the Pioneer Valley.
Mickey Huff is the director of Project Censored and president of the Media Freedom Foundation. To date, he has co-edited thirteen volumes of Project Censored’s annual book series. He is co-author with Nolan Higdon of United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About It) (City Lights Books, 2019) and Let’s Agree to Disagree: A Critical Thinking Guide to Communication, Conflict Management, and Critical Media Literacy (Routledge, 2022). He is a professor of social science, history, and journalism at Diablo Valley College in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is chair of the journalism department. In 2019, Huff received the Beverly Kees Educator Award as part of the James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society for Professional Journalists, Northern California. He is also the executive producer and host of The Project Censored Show, the weekly syndicated public affairs program that originates from KPFA Pacifica Radio in Berkeley, California, and which airs on more than fifty stations around the United States. He lives in Northern California with his family and two heavy metal pets, Lemmy the dog and Ozzy the cat.
Purchase United States of Distraction: Media Manipulation in Post-Truth America (And What We Can Do About It) at this link.
Reina Robinson is a coordinator of services for San Francisco Bay Area justice-involved youth since 2016. She earned a BA in ethnic studies and Black studies, with a minor in genders and sexualities in communities of color, plus a master of arts degree in communication at California State University, East Bay. Reina is a certified community resiliency model (CRM) and youth mental health first aid (YMHFA) instructor, vice-chair of the Museum of Children’s Art, and founder of the Center for Urban Excellence, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster resilience in system-involved youth using education, and economic and social opportunities. She resides in her hometown of Vallejo, California, and designs events focusing on Black experiences, the future, mental health, and resilience. Outside her profession, she enjoys live music, hiking, BBQing with family, and reading Afrofuturism.
Andy Lee Roth is the associate director of Project Censored and co-editor of thirteen editions of the Project’s yearbook. He coordinates the Project’s Campus Affiliates Program, a news media research network of several hundred students and faculty at two dozen colleges and universities across North America. His research and writing have been published in a variety of outlets, including Index on Censorship, In These Times, YES! Magazine, Truthout, Media, Culture & Society, and the International Journal of Press/Politics. He earned a PhD in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a BA in sociology and anthropology at Haverford College.
Maria Cecilia Soto is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studying applied linguistics and linguistics with a concentration in Spanish and teaching English as a second language. They are a student leader on campus, working as a residential assistant, and have experience working in the university classroom as a course assistant for Merrill College’s academic literacy and ethos course. Maria Cecilia is also involved in student life as one of the faces of UCSC’s promotional campaigns on campus and online. They greatly enjoy dancing and reading in their spare time.
This event was made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit: https://citylights.com/foundation/