By Jessica Chaloux
On Tuesday, Nov. 2 Sacred Heart University’s Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program (MLDC) hosted Central Connecticut State University professor Dr. Cindy White.
White teaches within the Media Studies Department, including classes on media literacy. She first became involved with media
literacy training with religious organizations, community outreach and educational programs.
Bill Yousman, assistant professor and director of MLDC graduate program, invited White to speak to the Sacred Heart community.
“I’ve known Dr. Cindy White for many years and I have always respected her work in the field of media literacy. I also know that she is a great speaker: funny, dramatic, smart and engaging. So I fully expected her talk to be dynamic and interesting and she did not disappoint,” said Yousman.
The event was held in honor of media literacy week and to spread the importance of analyzing and evaluating media. White discussed the meaning of being media literate and how consumers engage with materials such as
television and books.
“Whatever media literacy requires, it requires us not to tune out, it requires us to tune in,” said White in her presentation.
Questions such as “is it necessary for members of society to be media literacy?” were raised and asked to the audience allowing students to participate and give their opinion on the subject.
“She frequently asked the audience’s insight into the material she was presenting which helped to keep us engaged. I think that this style of teaching is great because it invites the audience, and herself, to challenge each others views, beliefs, and opinions on certain topics, something that is needed in a quickly evolving subject like media literacy,” said junior Isabel Rodriguez who is currently taking a course in media literacy.
Yousman believes that the world is saturated with media and that society uses media in its everyday normal state of existence.
“Because media plays such an important role in education, politics, culture, work, home, relationships and more, it is absolutely essential for students and all citizens to develop a high degree of media literacy that goes beyond traditional approaches to literacy skills,” said Yousman.
White demonstrated how media literacy can be used even in the seemingly simplest forms of media by breaking down a Fancy Feast commercial. She was able to describe the parts of the ad in detail without showing it and connected the audience to the feelings behind its messages.
White explained in her presentation that consumers are able to connect to these, sometimes without even realizing it because people are able to connect to common themes behind stories.
“[Stories] help us figure out how to fit, where we fit and where we don’t fit. It helps us understand what the contours of a society are,” she said.
This dicussion was engaging for students in the audience.
“I thought the event was very informative. Breaking down a video ad and having her analyze its individual pieces was very eye opening. I didn’t realize how passively we tend to consume media and what intricate design goes into creating compelling advertisements,” said Rodriguez.
Other communication students resonated well with White and her messages.
“I thought the presentation was very interesting. I haven’t taken the media literacy course yet, so I wasn’t sure what it was so it gave me a huge introduction to what I can expect next semester,” said junior Chris Faccenda.
The Media Literacy and Digital Culture Graduate Program is currently accepting applications for the 2017 school year.