Media Theorised – 5 Profound Lessons in Media Literacy

The Listening Posts brilliant compilation of Media Theories sheds light on the many ways media influences our actions and thought process. Sadly, a lot of this remains prevalent in the news reportage on African stories. Amongst some of the most striking instances is Palestinian academic Edward Said’s (1935-2003) book ‘Orientalism’ which showed how the West had the power to represent the colonial ‘other’ - while at once leaving them voiceless.

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By- The Listening Post

Now more than ever, we cannot take news media at face value – we need tools to read media critically, strategies to discern how information works. This is what inspired The Listening Post’s project: Media Theorised.

We’ve taken key works of five thinkers from around the world – theorists located in the space between the cosmopolitan centre and the ‘global south’. Roland Barthes, French philosopher; Noam Chomsky, American linguist and political activist; Stuart Hall, Jamaican-British cultural historian; Marshall McLuhan, Canadian academic; Edward Said, Palestinian-American literary historian.

As Roland Barthes would have put it: these are writers who have taught us how to ‘read against the grain’.

Working with journalists, artists and political activists from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the United States and Europe, we have created five videos supplemented by essays to introduce you to these media theorists and to help you apply some of their critical tools in your everyday encounters with the media.

Incredible Animation Summarises Noam Chomsky’s 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine

For decades, Noam Chomsky has been the agent provocateur when it comes to critiquing the US mainstream media. He co-authored ‘Manufacturing Consent’, a seminal work on mainstream journalism and its role in the mechanics of power.

It stands to reason that Amy Goodman should narrate this piece: she is the founder Democracy Now!, a US news broadcast which has provided viewers with an alternative kind of journalism, available on the internet and 1,400 radio and television stations worldwide.

Race, Gender, Class: The Politics of News

Known as the ‘Godfather of Multiculturalism’, Stuart Hall (1932-2014) gave us tools to understand how representation is always imbued with ideology – and how to resist.

We approached Natalie Jeffers to narrate this video because of the inspiration she has taken from Hall’s work, especially in her current role as co-founder of Black Lives Matter UK.

How to Read the Signs in the News

Roland Barthes The work of French philosopher Roland Barthes (1915-1980) is difficult, slippery, whimsical – it calls on us to read the world around us as a series of texts. He would have seen the TV screen as a cultural text – there to be read, interpreted, decoded.

Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff narrates this video. Latuff is known for his biting satirical cartoons that provide political commentary on world affairs.

Digital Prophecies: The Medium Is the Message

In the 1960s, way before anybody had ever tweeted, Facebook Live-d or sent classified information to WikiLeaks, one man made a series of pronouncements about the changing media landscape. His name was Marshall McLuhan and you’ve probably heard his most quoted line: “The medium is the message”.

This video is narrated by Alex Chow, one of the leaders of the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella movement whose mass street occupation was mobilised and reported via social media.

Framed: The Politics of Stereotypes in News

Palestinian academic Edward Said’s (1935-2003) book ‘Orientalism’ showed how the West had the power to represent the colonial ‘other’ – while at once leaving them voiceless.

Sorious Samura who has narrated this video, produces journalism that does precisely what Orientalist narratives do not: in documentaries like ‘Cry Freedom’ and ‘Exodus from Africa’, he has covered Africa from the inside, representing African voices and African perspectives.

 

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