Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen

Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture

by Paul Mihailidis (Author)
©2014 Textbook XII, 224 Pages


Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen is about enhancing engagement in a digital media culture and the models that educators, parents and policy makers can utilize to place media-savvy youth into positions of purpose, responsibility and power. Two specific challenges are at the core of this book’s argument that media literacy is the path toward more active and robust civic engagement in the 21st century:
How can media literacy enable core competencies for value-driven, diverse and robust digital media use?
How can media literacy enable a more civic-minded participatory culture?
These challenges are great, but they need to be examined in their entirety if media literacy is to begin to address the opportunities they present for democracy, participation and discourse in a digital media age. By presenting information that places media literacy at the center of what it means to be an engaged citizen, educators and policy makers will understand why media literacy must be integrated into formal and informal education systems before it’s too late

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Praise for Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgments
  • Figures
  • Introduction. Civic Life in Digital Culture
  • Part One. Emerging Landscapes
  • Chapter 1. The Emerging Civic Landscape
  • Chapter 2. The Emerging Media Literacy Landscape
  • Chapter 3. Digital Media Culture and the Civic Potential of Media Literacy
  • Part Two. Listening to Emerging Citizens
  • Chapter 4. Young Citizens and Perceptions of Social Media Use – Integrated Information Landscapes
  • Chapter 5. Young Citizens and Perceptions of Social Media’s Value – A Disconnect Emerges
  • Part Three. A Framework for Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen
  • Chapter 6. Media Literacy Education in Digital Culture: Bridging the Disconnect
  • Chapter 7. The 5A’s of Media Literacy: A Normative Model for the Emerging Citizen
  • Conclusion. Media Literacy & Civic Life in a Digital Culture
  • Appendices
  • A. Social Advocacy Campaigns, Missions & Causes Using Digital Networks
  • B. Study Methodology and Participant Sample
  • C. Social Media Habits Survey
  • D. Small Group Discussion Protocol
  • E. 5A’s Media Literacy Syllabus Excerpt
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

← vi | vii → DEDICATION

To Amy. Without her, this book would have not been possible.

To Emma and Mae. Who keep me working,
laughing and in constant amazement.← vii | viii →


This book would not have been possible without the help, support and guidance from a host of great friends, colleagues, mentors and students.

I’d first like to thank my colleagues at the universities that participated in the research for this book. Belinha De Abreu, Vanessa Domine, Chuck Fidler, Katherine Fry, Sherri Hope Culver, Susan Moeller, Moses Shumow, and Bu Zhong were all overly generous in both disseminating the surveys and allowing me to intrude on their classrooms to facilitate small group discussions.

I’m indebted to my colleagues and friends who read versions of this book along the way, from the initial chapters to the final product. Their eyes, ears, and constructive criticisms helped form the core arguments that I try to advance. In no particular order, I’m indebted to David Cooper Moore, Belinha De Abreu, Meg Fromm, and Eric Gordon for reading versions of this work and providing critical feedback. The theoretical developments early in this work, particularly in Chapter two, stem from some of discussions with Benjamin Thevenin, who I’m grateful to for being able to engage with in more substantial ways around critical media literacy and citizenship. I’ve sat many nights with Jad Melki, Moses Shumow, Roman Gerodimos, and Meg Fromm, talking about the ideas in this book, amongst many other things, that have all found a way to influence the work that follows. Many others contributed ← ix | x → to the shaping of this book in formal and informal ways, too many to name here. A few I would like to offer thanks to specifically for their support. Angela Cooke Jackson for our work on media and health literacy with urban youth; Sanjeev Chatterjee, Jochen Fried, David Goldman, Manuel Guerrero, Andrea Lopez-Portillo, Stephen Reese, and especially Stephen Salyer, and Susan Moeller, whom I already mentioned above, founded, and helped build the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, which largely shaped my thinking about the models I provide in this book. David Burns and I sat one night in an office in Salzburg in 2007 and played around with the 5A’s model in its earliest stages. Without that night, I’m not sure I would have come to this point.

I wanted to extend thanks to the many students who helped develop the ideas found in this book. My media literacy students at Hofstra University, and later at Emerson College were crucial to my understanding of social media, young people, and civic life. Eivind Michaelsen, for the last two years at Emerson, has helped immensely in the transcription of this data, the creation of the figures and graphs in the book, in bringing the numerous examples you’ll find in the appendices to my attention, and in being a fantastic friend and graduate assistant along the way.

I would also like to extend a warm thanks to my editor, Mary Savigar, at Peter Lang, whom I’ve now had the pleasure of working with on multiple projects. Mary has been supportive, flexible and responsive to all my inquiries throughout this process. Thanks also goes to the staff around Mary, as well as the reviewers of this book, who played a central role in shaping the ideas found in this book, and in the final product that you see here.

Finally, of course, none of this would be possible without the support of my family. Amy, Emma and Mae have given me the time and leeway to make this possible. I think I owe them a year of dinners, Saturdays, and ice cream. I can’t wait to pay them back.


Paul Mihailidis, PhD

Emerson College, Boston, MA, USA

Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change, Salzburg, Austria

← x | xi → FIGURES

Figure 1. Social Media Terminology Chart.

Figure 2. The 5 A’s of Media Literacy Education.

Figure 2.1. NAMLE Core Principles of Media Literacy Education.

Figure 2.2. CML Five Core Concepts for Media Literacy Education.

Figure 2.3. Jenkins Core Media Literacy Skills.

Figure 2.4. The Nexus of Digital Media Culture and Citizenship.

Figure 3.1. Katchpole Petition Letter to Bank of America.

Figure 3.2. The C’s of Media Literacy Networks.

Figure 4.1. Social Media and News Habits.

Figure 4.2. Social Media and Political Habits.

Figure 4.3. Social Media and Perceptions of Friends.

Figure 4.4. Technology and Classroom Organization.

Figure 4.5. Social Media and Leisure Activities.

Figure 4.6. Social Media and Perceptions of Privacy.

Figure 6.1. Media Literacy Connectors.

Figure 7.1. The 5A’s of Media Literacy for the Emerging Citizen.

Figure 7.2. The 5A’s Continuum.

Figure 7.3. The Access Competency.

Figure 7.4. The Awareness Competency.

← xi | xii → Figure 7.5. The Assessment Competency.

Figure 7.6. The Appreciation Competency.

Figure 7.7. The Action Competency.

Figure 7.8. The 5A’s of Media Literacy Ecosystem.

Figure 9.1. The Nexus of Digital Media Culture and Citizenship.← xii | 1 →



We exist today between worlds. At home, in school, and in public, our physical interactions are determined by the constraints of proximity. We speak to those around us; we socialize within our direct circles, and extend our interactions based on our willingness or need to communicate. The communities that we have historically formed were limited by physical surroundings. We help around the house, we support our neighbors and neighborhoods, and we participate in communities based on their closeness to us. Sharing stories with others has always been a central and necessary component of this existence.

In mediated spaces, a new landscape continues to emerge. Supported by the growth of mobile and social media technologies, new digital platforms now encompass large, diverse, collaborative, and interactive networked communities. They are not limited by demographic or physical boundaries. Interactions in these spaces are many-to-many, sporadic, unscripted, and lack the need for intimacy or a present audience. In these spaces our personal relationships merge together with loose acquaintances and distant family members. In these spaces, the lines between news and entertainment, facts and fiction, truth and hearsay are less distinguishable. In these spaces, our virtual identities are self-crafted around our ideals and extend outward into the networks “in which we participate, opt into and create.

← 1 | 2 → The emerging landscape for dialog online is actively reshaping how we think about community and participation in the 21st century. From how we understand privacy, expression, and identity, to how we negotiate relationships, social media technologies have exposed a need to explore new codes, rules, and regulations for dialog, voice, and connectivity.


XII, 224
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2014 (November)
purpose responsibility opportunities democracy power
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 224 pp., num. fig.

Biographical notes

Paul Mihailidis (Author)

Paul Mihailidis is Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Emerson College and the director of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. His past books include News Literacy: Global Perspectives for the Newsroom and Classroom (Peter Lang, 2011) and Media Literacy Education in Action (2013). He sits on the board of directors for the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) and is co-editor of the Journal of Media Literacy Education (JMLE)


Title: Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen
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