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DISPATCH: Media Literacy & Katrina
Posted on November 4, 2005 by Anita Roddick

Enough of the whinging about children bombarded by "bad media." I admire efforts in the United States and Canada to head off the effects of media on children by actually empowering children to think critically about the messages they receive. Hurricane Katrina offers a multitude of "teachable moments"; who needs the V-chip when your kids are equipped to consume media intelligently? Much was said about keeping children from seeing the horrible photos of bodies floating in the muck of new Orleans last month. But I wonder if we really need to shield children from the truth? Are we doing them any service by blindfolding them? And then there was the dust-up over two Associated Press photos showing a black man and a white couple, respectively, leaving abandoned grocery shops with seemingly purloined goods. The black man was described as"looting," the white couple as "finding" food and water. Yes, the media was wrong and racist to make such assumptions, but it also provided parents and teachers with an opportunity to discuss a real issue with their charges - the race and class divisions in the United States and elsewhere. And what of celebrities? I know that I am often asked to comment on issues that I have no expertise in. Of course, I'm usually willing to give an opinion, but I wonder why it is sometimes I'm the one asked about hurricane relief instead of the people who are actually experts in the field. Katrina gave us photo op after photo op of celebrities from Sean Penn to Oprah to Jamie Foxx visiting victims and aiding in rescues. Nothing shameful about that certainly. But what are we teaching children about celebrity when the evening news is celebrating a millionaire who coptered in and out in a day, but not the poor resident who stayed behind and risked his life to save an elderly neighbor? I encourage anyone with children to visit these sites and take a moment to give kids the tools to learn from media rather than be protected from it or bombarded by it.

Topic : Education
Posted By : Anita Roddick
Posted On : November 4, 2005



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Re : Media Literacy & Katrina
By Rachel Bramble on March 27, 2006

I completely agree with Anita's comments.
My children who are now 13 & 15 have always watched different world disastours and known about how other people live. They now both have a good solid social conscience and will speak out about injustice as much as they can.
Their school has built and is supporting a school in Cambodia and I hope that my children will both go and help voluntary there when they are older


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