Why It Is Important Promoting News Literacy
One of the most illiterate age groups when it comes to news literacy is 18-25 years olds. In an age where technology consumes the lives of the younger generations this group of individuals are increasingly susceptible to false information and with the lack of skills relating to determining reliable information, they struggle to form informed opinions on political matters. As a member of the University of Washington Commission on Media Literacy I believe addressing the issues surrounding the internet’s part in politics will yield the greatest benefit to this age group.
Iyengar states, “Not only are the young especially adept with new technologies, but they have also integrated them into their personal lives as never before” (Iyengar, pg 343). This realization of the impact of technology on the public, especially the younger generations is why addressing individuals ages 18-25 online about media literacy will be successful. The concept of Issue Public Hypothesis most accurately describes this age group. A majority of the youth have very little political interest. They tend to only tune in when the information is perceived as important to them or is relating to a major event. Utility based selectivity, or tuning in depending on perceived usefulness of the information, drives how this group views politics. For the most part, the American youth tunes out information that doesn’t relate to them and as a result are ill informed on a number of important issues. This weakens the democratic function of our country and limits the marketplace of ideas that drives debate.
I believe the University of Washington Commission on Media Literacy should begin attacking this problem head on by using the technique of agenda control in the area. By emphasizing the advantages of media literacy to students at the university through increased advertising of the subject we will be able to increase the perceived importance of media literacy. Priming the demographic to believe media literacy is relevant to them will drive them to be more receptive to our main goal of educating them on how to effectively mediate information to formulate informed opinions. Utilizing social media, a place that dominates the way American youth gains access to information, to reach the demographic will allow us to effectively illustrate our intentions and draw individuals to our cause. Once the demographic perceives media literacy as a relevant subject of concern for them, we will have increased the likelihood that they search for solutions on their own. Critical analysis of information and a better grasp of what reliable sources look like will have a beneficial impact on their decision making in the future and lead to greater participation in democratic decisions.