Those nine months somehow managed to pass by, and there are approximately one million things I didn’t have time to write on here. Mostly because I was working on this instead:
The Immediacy of Media Literacy: Cultures of Critical News Consumption in Asia
It’s my final research project, covering findings from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, and India. It’s an amalgamation of interviews, literature, and anything else I felt was necessary to say.
Ultimately, I argue that at the core of media literacy is a sense of protest. Just as free press holds a nation accountable, media literate readers hold a biased or censored press accountable. The rise of internet news complicates traditions of news consumption by challenging press institutions and offering more sensational forms of media. However, if the costs of criticizing media are too high, many opt out of criticism altogether. Despite these differences in levels of media literacy among communities, identities, and nations, young people everywhere manage to find subversive means of navigating biased media.
Writing this paper was more of an emotional process than I could have ever predicted. Asking students about press freedoms varied from simple data collection to spells of existential heartache. It was so easy for me, as an American, to have written this paper on critical news consumption. Had a Chinese student turned in this paper, they likely would have been detained. While the U.S. by no means has a flawlessly free press, I’ve always taken my relatively infinite journalistic liberties for granted.
Other things I am retrospectively and indescribably grateful for are the connections this project created between me my international peers. Media literacy was a window into a number of invaluable conversations about what it means to be free, what it means to speak your mind, and what it means to be engaged.
Paper aside, I’ll keep those memories forever.