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Media Literacy and the Emerging Citizen

Youth, Engagement and Participation in Digital Culture

Paul Mihailidis

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
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Chapter 3. Digital Media Culture and the Civic Potential of Media Literacy


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The Power of the Media Literate “Crowd”

In October of 2011, Molly Katchpole, a 22-year-old Rhode Island native, living and working in Washington, DC, heard that Bank of America was implementing a new $5/month banking fee. With little explanation behind the increased fees and on the heels of a hefty government bailout, which technically involved the American taxpayer keeping Bank of America afloat, Katchpole, like most Americans, wasn’t too pleased. Instead of simply closing her account, and moving on to another bank, Katchpole decided to respond.

Using the nonprofit, nonpartisan,, Katchpole mounted a participatory campaign urging Bank of America to cease its new fees. Her petition letter, posted on the site, read:

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Figure 3.1. Katchpole Petition Letter to Bank of America.


This simple, concise, and direct letter was published to the community. boasts of having 25 million users in over 196 countries, all who contribute to causes and petitions to help “transform their communities-locally, nationally, and globally.”8’s mission is to use new digital media tools and social platforms to help citizens advance their civic voices for causes small and large. They recognize, in their mission statement, that “technology has made us more connected than ever,” and aim to provide a space for individuals to work towards leading and supporting...

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