MEDIA LITERACY: OVERVIEW



DECONSTRUCTING MEDIA

Thereís a lot to be discovered by just taking that second look at a piece of media. Thinking about commercials, for example, itís important to remember that no detail is placed there by accident. In fact, all the details have been very carefully planned so as to convey a message.

To give you just one example of what weíre talking about, letís try to deconstruct or take apart this sample ad. To help you do this, consider this set of questions as you put on your media criticís hat.

Questions To Consider
  1. Who made this message and why did they make it?

  2. Who do you think is the target audience for the message?
    • Consider their age, ethnicity, lifestyle, interests, etc.
    • How did you conclude this was the audience? (e.g. words, images)


  3. What is the message the ad is trying to convey?
    • What do we see/hear that makes you come to this conclusion (e.g. words, Images, logos, music, sounds, etc.)
    • Whatís the subtext of this message? Whatís the hidden or unstated meaning?


  4. What is missing here? What is left out of the message that might be important to know?

  5. How does the ad go about trying to convince you of its message?
    • What kinds of words are used and when are these words used? What do we hear and what appears in print?
    • What kinds of people are chosen for the ad? What are the people doing? What are they wearing?
    • What is the setting? Where does it take place?
    • What kind of problems does this product seem to resolve?
    • What is happening at the same time the health risks for this product are being listed? (e.g. what kinds of imagery are being used?)


  6. How might different people respond to this message? (e.g. teen girls of different ages, African American girls or women, Caucasian girls or women, an 18 year old male in a relationship versus and 18 year old male who is not in a relationship, etc.)

  7. What techniques are used to get your attention? (e.g. editing, camera angles, music, imagery, the use of color and black/white, etc.)

  8. What is my interpretation of the message?
    • What information, ideas, values, points of view are represented or implied in this message?
    • How credible is the information presented? Why have I come to this conclusion?
    For more about deconstruction, see the sample lesson, at: http://depts.washington.edu/sexmedia/educators/medialit/lesson-safersex.php