How Do Our Own Biases Affect our Media Literacy?

When I give talks about media literacy, nearly everyone agrees that this is an important, 21st century survival skill. We spend hours with the media, we need to analyze and evaluate it.

But rarely do we step back and reflect on how our own biases and baggage keep us from being media literate.

Let me explain.  I have a friend who is desperately worried about our planet.  She is an extremely talented artist whose work reflects her passion and concern.  She shared this photo on Facebook:


A friend of HERS had shared it as a photo of a pipeline protest in North Dakota.  My friend passed it along. But once she realized the photo was actually taken at Woodstock in 1969, she called herself out and showed me the photo.

While researching photos from North Dakota, I came across this image as well.  It’s been shared thousands of times, but it’s actually a photo from a government protest in Chile.


It got me thinking…my environmentalist friend shared this because she wanted it to be true.   Just like my right-wing friend shared this fake Kenyan Obama birth certificate, wanting it to be true.


Perhaps we are missing a larger point about media literacy and sharing on social media.  I think we’ll do a new exercise in class:  analyzing our own “baggage” in anticipation of what types of posts – true or not – that we will share without verifying.

We are our own editors – in what ways can we teach our students to be aware of their conscious and subconscious editing when it comes to social media sharing?

One thought on “How Do Our Own Biases Affect our Media Literacy?

  1. Whether we are aware of it or not, each and every one of these things will affect who we select for interview, how we interview them, who we hire and our reasons for hiring them.

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