My fascination with stories and words started a long time ago. I was a child captivated by movies and books. When I got to college, I majored in French Language and Communication: Film Studies. My studies were all about expression, dialogue, storytelling — words and words and words. I took courses in mass media, film theory, linguistics, French language and culture. At the time of my undergraduate studies, there was some debate about whether or not the film studies and film production majors would have been better placed under the Art department, rather than Communication. After all, the French refer to film as the seventh art (after architecture, sculpture, drawing and painting, theater, dance, and music). And while I completely agree that film is an art form, I’m grateful my film studies fell under the umbrella of communication.
Now in my graduate studies, I’m pursuing a master’s degree in Communication and Media Studies. My passion for film is most definitely still there, but my interests are also broader: mass media, media ethics, communication design, gender and media, interpersonal communication, social media, communication technology, and so much more. In particular, my fascination lies in dissecting the ways media and communication affect our everyday lives.
When I look at the world, I see all the ways it’s communicating to me: telling me stories, revealing the truth, and informing my choices. Communication is happening all the time, between people and other people, between people and objects, between people and cultural systems. Everything is communicating to us in one way or another. If we look closely, we can see the ways that media and language affect our feelings, reactions, and decisions. I’m interested in helping people see that, in helping people become media literate.
Media Literacy is one of those slippery terms that’s hard to define. The Center for Media Literacy defines it as, “a 21st century approach to education. It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.”
In my own words, Media Literacy means understanding the ways media of all types are influencing who we are, how we feel, and what we do, both as individuals and as societies. This is what I’ve been studying for most of my adult life, in one way or another, and I want to bring that education to this blog.
But this blog is also about faith, and one area I see a need for Media Literacy is in our churches and faith communities. How does our faith affect the way we communicate with others? How should or how does faith influence the way we understand and interact with media? And the reverse — how does media influence the way we understand and interact with our faith?
There are so many intersections between faith and communication, because both are part of our everyday lives, or should be. At some moments, they are so integrated into our lives that it may be hard to see how they influence each other or our daily interactions and decisions. But that’s the point of exploring the topic — to discover those moments and be aware of them.
I’ll be devoting two posts per month addressing these topics. The posts will be semi-academic in nature, since I will be referring to some of my studies in communication and media, and also semi-reflective as I tie the topics back to every day life and faith. If there are topics you’d like to explore, please let me know and I will work them in. I’m looking forward to starting this series and seeing where it takes us.