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Media Literacy: Focusing the lens on Latin America Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian Department of Communication Texas A&M University.

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Presentation on theme: "Media Literacy: Focusing the lens on Latin America Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian Department of Communication Texas A&M University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Media Literacy: Focusing the lens on Latin America Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian Department of Communication Texas A&M University

2 Global citizenship and media literacy Media shape values, influencing our opinions, and constructing our worldviews Effective, active, and empowered citizens in a global multimedia community Media literacy focuses on fostering active inquiry and critical thinking skills about the media messages that we receive and create

3 Global citizenship and media literacy Part One: Media flows between Latin America and U.S – television and film industries Part Two: Critical analysis of U.S media representations of Latin America

4 Main Principles of Media Literacy 1. Active inquiry and critical thinking about the messages we receive and create. 2. “Literacy” applied to all forms of media. 3. Builds and reinforces skills for learners of all ages. 4. Integrated, interactive, and repeated practice. Alliance for a Media Literate America

5 Main Principles of Media Literacy 4. Develops informed, reflective and engaged participation essential for a democratic society 5. Recognizes that media are a part of culture and function as agents of socialization 6. Affirms that people use their individual skills, beliefs and experiences to construct their own meanings from media messages Alliance for a Media Literate America

6 What Media Literacy is Not Replacing students’ perspectives with someone else’s Sharing a critique of media without also sharing skills to critically analyze media Teaching students to think critically without also teaching skills of expression or vice versa Using media literacy videos, films, books or other curriculum materials as a substitute for teaching critical inquiry skills Alliance for a Media Literate America

7 What Media Literacy is Not Simply using media in the classroom Asking IF there is a bias in a particular message (since all media messages are biased), but rather, what the substance, source, and significance of a bias might be About accepting oversimplifications or overgeneralizations about media or any other topic About restricting or reducing complex debates to two sides Alliance for a Media Literate America

8 Key Questions to Ask when Analyzing Media Messages Authors and Audiences Authorship: Who made this message? Purpose: Why was this made? Economics: Who paid for this? Impact: Who might benefit from this message? Who might be harmed? Why might this message matter to me? Response: What kinds of actions might I take in response to this message? Messages and Meanings Content: What is this about? What ideas, values, information and point of view are overt? Implied? What is left out of this message that is important to know? Techniques: What techniques are used? Why were those techniques used? How do they communicate the message? Interpretations: How might different people understand this message differently? What do I learn about myself from my reaction or interpretation? Representations and Reality Context: When was this made? Where or how was it shared with the public? Credibility: Is this fact, opinion, or something else? How credible is this (and what makes you think that)? What are the sources of the information, ideas, or assertions? Alliance for a Media Literate America

9 Part One: Media flow patterns between U.S and Latin America The Case of Television and Film Industries

10 Cultural imperialism versus proximity Cultural imperialism Richer, mightier countries dominate media content of subordinating countries Cultural proximity Media audiences prefer local over foreign programs Asymmetric interdependence (Straubhaar, 1994)

11 Evidence for cultural proximity In 2003, about 60 to 80% of programming was locally produced U.S media content was only 8% of Brazil, 14% in Chile, 13% in Columbia, and 27% in Mexico

12 U.S. TV programs in Latin America U.S programs such as The Simpsons and Fresh Prince of Belair popular with younger audiences in large cities in Latin America, especially those in the upper/middle class Most of the top 10 popular paid channels are U.S based (mainly movies)

13 Media flows within and outside Latin America Increase in exports from Brazil, Venezuela, and Mexico to other countries in Latin America and to European countries Venevision headquartered in Miami uses neutral Spanish; Venezuelan and Mexican actors Export to U.S.: Brazilian Globo has made telenovelas geared toward Hispanic market in U.S. that describes Mexican characters living in Brazil

14 Globalization of Latin American TV industry Some Latin American media companies are collaborating with foreign companies to co- produce movies for TV Interestingly, many are headquartered in Miami (MTV Latino, Telemundo, and Univision) Apart from the U.S., Canada, France and Spain- based conglomerates own some channels in Latin America

15 Support for asymmetric interdependence Modeled after U.S. capitalist profit- oriented media companies in structure and processes Smaller countries such as Ecuador import more from U.S. than bigger ones such as Mexico In some genres such as movies, sitcoms, cartoons, U.S. media dominates

16 Part Two: Representations of Latin America in U.S. Media

17 Describe a typical news story about…. Mexico Brazil Venezuela Colombia Argentina Cuba Group think

18 Can you guess what 3 themes are discussed the most in news stories about Latin America?

19 Top Three Themes Drugs Immigration Soccer Is this information surprising?

20 How about stereotypes of Latin America in entertainment? See Unthinking Eurocentrism book

21 Traditional Latin American stereotypes in entertainment The Greaser The Lazy/Stupid “Mexican” The Latin Lover The Dark Lady


23 Social identity theory and media Us versus them They are all Mexicans (out-group homogeneity) The more they are like us, the more we like them (prototypical similarity)

24 Assimilation in U.S. culture On Ugly Betty, America Ferrera’s character Betty has to balance life in her Latino home with life at work in Manhattan. JKINQG3agC&fs=1&title=Ugly%20Betty%20-%20%27A%20Tree%20Grows%20In%20Guadalajara%27%20Summary%20%5BEp.%2022%5D In the summary of Ugly Betty - 'A Tree Grows In Guadalajara' Summary [Ep. 22] We see Betty and her family going back to their roots in Mexico to solve family problems, yet still maintain their identity in America

25 Popular media as a source of information Television is a primary source of information about racial and ethnic minorities, especially for children from rural backgrounds with little to no direct contact with other races (Graves, 1999)

26 Cultivation of social reality Higher TV exposure Greater fear of crime More mistrust in people Higher perceived threat Greater support for law enforcement (Gerber and colleagues)

27 Immigration & Media How is immigration portrayed in the media?

28 Can you guess which countries had the highest and lowest number of news stories?

29 Mexico2037 Brazil1078 Cuba784 Venezuela538 Argentina527 Puerto Rico343 Colombia331 Chile328 Peru291 Dominican Republic290 Panama263 Guatemala238 Ecuador197 Bolivia165 Nicaragua158 Costa Rica137 Uruguay122 Honduras113 El Salvador103 Guyana60 Paraguay50 Belize43 Suriname9 French Guyana5

30 Media dependency

31 Agenda-setting

32 Episodic versus thematic

33 Illegal immigration a4U a4U wzvU wzvU

34 Venezuelan President article Washington Post editorial

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