Monday, January 30, 2012

MediaThink's legacy

More than a decade ago I signed up to be part of a new non-profit called the Northwest Media Literacy Center. Because the name was a mouthful, to say nothing of slightly pretentious, we changed it to "MediaThink."

Over the years we put on dozens of presentations, primarily for parents worried that their children were being "media-napped" by texting, product placements, video games and cartoons.

But MediaThink's numbers never expanded beyond a core group of about six. Over time, the group couldn't sustain itself even though the need for critically assessing media became bigger and more complex than ever.

At least a couple of us felt that the rapid, overwhelming changes in media technology were simply beyond the mastery and understanding of our generation. Then too — surprise, surprise — we never got the attention of the media.

So at the end of last year, the group decided to call it quits. Its one active project was a self-directed, Northwest Earth Institute-style course for parent groups. We called it "The Media Mindful Family" and parceled it out to The Media Literacy Project in New Mexico. MLP has promised to carry it forward.

There's still a huge need for a media literacy organization in Portland (and everywhere for that matter). Several organizations have taken an interest locally: Kaiser Permanente, the state PTA, the Oregon Council for the Humanities, The Oregon Pediatric Society and the Heart Association. Yes, there are health consequences to a "bad media diet." Start with one word: "addiction."

One of the legacies of our our now defunct group is a contact list of national media literacy organizations. Their web sites are worth exploring. Sharing the contacts with you seems to be a fitting farewell to MediaThink.

ACME Coalition

Media Literacy Project (formerly NMMLP)

Center For Media Literacy

Just Think

Media Awareness Network

Media Education Foundation

Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Media Education Lab

Media Literacy Online Project

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