Step four will now be working on a completely different track than the other classes since I want to limit our objectives there and achieve a basic level of media literacy. I prepared a worksheet for today that allows them to better delve into the world of images and advertising that we see everyday so that they can evaluate online advertisements. They attempted to differentiate between content and advertisement, list words commonly used in advertising, and talk about how advertising can make you feel. They did this analysis on two different ads and then compared and added to our class list. I honestly feel like this focused lesson accomplished more than any other lesson with the students at this level. The lessons provided by this lesson will help them be more critical consumers.
With Step 5 and 6 we started talking about media ownership, consolidation, and why it was a threat to democracy. I used a couple of analogies that I think worked really well. The first compared the situation to a rumor started by one person, spread to twelve classmates, about another one of their classmates. One of those 12 people says "Oh man, it must be true...I heard it from 11 people!!!." Then I asked, but how many people did you ACTUALLY hear it from? And they correctly responded, one. This is how media ownership works I explained. So many of the sources we use report news coming from a single company or single chief executive but they are passed off as multiple sources, which validate the information in our minds. The second analogy was how Banana Republic, GAP, and Old Navy are are the same company, but exist to sell clothes to different groups of consumers, but it is really one company trying to increase profit. These analogies really worked I felt and led into talking about media consolidation.
I gave them some surprising statistics on media ownership, and how the sources keep getting smaller. I spent some time talking about how GE owns not only media, but makes fighter jets, bombers, owns a health care company, and oil and gas. The presentation I think was very successful at getting them to understand how this means they would not want to important news like the war in Iraq or the health care crisis. One student actually came up to me later in the day and said "I couldn't believe that stuff. I was stunned!" We spent a little time talking about why this way bad for our democracy and then started in on their project.
We spent the rest of the class working on their project which will be a big poster in landscape greeting card form that has the logo of the big coporation on the front and when you open it, logos of many of the companies they own. We will continue that project tomorrow!