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ERIC Number: ED523016
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 340
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1244-0896-5
Youth Media Literacy Practices: The Possibilities and Complexities of Creating and Distributing Non-Commercial Public Media in a Private and Commercial World
Bach, Amy Jane
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania
Drawn from more than two years of ethnographic data collection, this dissertation study explores the literacy practices enacted in a youth media organization (the Youth Media Group) that is a branch of a public access television station (Manhattan Media) in New York City. Rooted in New Literacy Studies, a branch of scholarship which explores reading and writing primarily as social practices and cultural forms, this study understands literacy in relation to the larger economic, political, social, and historical contexts in which reading and writing always exist. Drawing also from semiotic and multimodal literacy theory, this study positions media production, specifically the digital video production, distribution, and consumption of media texts that takes place in my field site, to be a literacy practice--one that involves reading and writing, albeit with a medium other than traditional print. As a medium, public access television has a decidedly different purpose than commercial television in that it aims to create opportunities for communication, education, artistic expression and other non-commercial uses of media amongst the general public. Both Manhattan Media and its Youth Media Group position the production and distribution of community-oriented media as a social advocacy tool to educate individuals and advance civic participation around issues of community concern. However, popular and institutional discourses increasingly position literacy first and foremost as a tool for individual advancement to compete in a market economy, rather than as a means through which to participate in, and contribute to, a larger public sphere. This study explores these media organizations and the work they do in relation to the larger market-oriented society, and mainstream media landscape, in which they exist. My study highlights the importance of locating community and youth-produced media within this context - a context which, I argue, both constrains opportunities for non-commercial public media to be broadcast to a wider audience and yet creates an increasingly inequitable social and economic environment where non-commercial media that speak to issues of local concern are needed. My research finds that the meanings and purposes that guide the youth of my study in their media production both contest and reflect facets of a market-based ideology that privileges the commercial, private, and corporate over that of the public. In a larger society where public space is increasingly monitored, controlled and/or privatized, youth participants overwhelmingly recognize and greatly appreciate the unique and relatively unrestricted communal space that both of these media organizations offer. However, in this non-commercial media space that aims to educate young people to produce and consume media grounded in youth and community concerns as a means to generate civic interest and participation in social and political issues, some youth value their media education primarily for its private utility--namely, the possibilities for career development and advancement it provides--rather than for its potential to contribute to a community knowledge base and serve a larger public aim. My study also finds that in an organization where 'youth voice' is not critically examined, young people may at times create media texts that reproduce sexist, homophobic, and other marginalizing perspectives, as youth themselves have grown up in a society wrought with these prejudices and are shaped by the institutions, social histories, and interactions they share with adults. In this way, my research cautions against misunderstanding the potential for new digital technologies alone to be social change agents, and I highlight the need for youth media organizations to include a critical and continually-reflective content development component to their media education programs. This study explores the possibilities and challenges of teaching young people to produce public non-commercial media in an increasingly market-oriented, privatized, and commercial world. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York