Media education takes action

Jill Freeman believes audiences deserve a noncommercial alternative to television, radio and print. An important first step will turn passive media consumers into discerning, critical utilizers of dynamic media content.

Students, faculty and community are invited to attend Media Education in Action, a daylong event Thursday that addresses issues of media consumption.

Freeman, a communications professor, says the goal of the project is to raise awareness in the local Portland area of some of the issues that are taking place in corporate media.

Freeman says we live in a consumption-based, image-based culture.

“One of the things that I talk about with my students is how we sort of exist in what I refer to as the media marinade,” he said. “That media surrounds us in our daily lives and it’s almost impossible to exist in this culture without being affected by mediated messages.”

Freeman says the majority of media in the U.S. is owned and controlled by nine major corporations: Viacom, Disney, GE, News Corp, Time Warner, Liberty, Bertelsmann, AT&T and Sony.

“So you walk down the street and you see billboards, clothes have logos on them which are advertising, you know, forms of advertisement,” says Freeman, “PSU has contracts with corporate vendors that influence the consumption of messages, so people are exposed to and consuming mediated messages in their daily lives almost every minute of the day. ”

Media Education in Action was created to present alternative forms of media, and to bring students together.

Freeman’s “Advocacy in Action” class spent last term developing a day of panel speakers, educational booths and independent music and film festivals.

Panel speakers included Marty Davis, publisher of Just Out magazine, Dave Mazza, editor of the Portland Alliance, Mark and Dave from KEX radio and former Miss America Katie Harmon (who was also an “Advocacy in Action” student).

Freeman says PSU academics that specialize in media and politics or media news will be speaking, such as communications professor Dr. David Kennamer, associate professor of Political Science Regina Lawrence, and Tom Stevenson, a national award winner for public speaking.

Information booths will offer opportunities for internships, volunteering, and information about how students can get involved in producing media and learn how to produce, write and direct a television show.

Ryan Vesalpour, one of Freeman’s students, says the project was an amazing experience.

“We’re all affected by the media,” he says, “its good, but it’s important to understand and be literate about it.”

Vesalpour was part of the group that selected the film exhibited in the program.

“A lot of them are educational films that we use in our curriculum to talk about everything from MTV and marketing to teenagers, to representation of women and body image and culture, to representation of men and body image and culture,” says Freeman.

“I think it’s really vital that people are aware of how those images are produced and how we consume them and how we can become more educated about the choices we make in that consumption,” says Freeman.