How Media Influences Change

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We were invited to observe Jen Smith’s film class at Truman Middle College, our alternative high school partner in the North Side of Chicago. Jen has been educating students at Truman for a few years now and has developed useful techniques to engage the students in media literacy.

The students at Truman Middle College explore the ways media influences everyday decisions. Jen asked the class to reflect on examples of media influencing public sentiment in recent history as far back as World War II. The students came up with all kinds of ideas including: cigarette campaigns, the war on terror, music videos, and international events. One of the students said “This war started as a war on terror and now it’s called the invasion of Iraq.” This statement stimulated a lot of discussion about how the media holds power to influence change in many ways. Another student made the comment, “In music videos, people are paid to wear clothes so the youth want to wear the same clothes.” This is a great example of the pressure put on teenagers to conform to media values.

The students made many relevant and intriguing points on how the media has a profound influence. The students at Truman Middle College made themselves more media literate in how this influences affects the things people do, perceive as cool or negative, and even the things people decide to buy.

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