Media is globally pervasive in the 21st century.
Film, television, radio, podcasts, online news sites, streaming services, advertising and corporate images saturate the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. YouTube channel talk shows, documentaries, and many other forms of professional and amateur media inundate us daily.
Discerning content that is real, fake, and somewhere in between, can be difficult. SIU Carbondale’s Department of Radio, Television, and Digital Media (RTD) focuses on teaching media literacy and creating media-makers who tell stories honestly, cogently, and with integrity — whether in news, sports, fiction, or nonfiction.
Lisa Brooten, associate professor in the RTD program, notes that “our department provides students with foundational literacies in both the hands-on aspects of production as well as the critical thinking skills necessary to understand the impact of images in our culture.”
RTD students tackle these foundational literacies early in their program, and are then prepared for digging in deeper in upper-level courses. They learn to find answers to complex issues: What are the economic and political contexts for modern media industries? How do these contexts inform the media images all around us, and audience understandings of the world?
“These questions are vital in our media-saturated world, especially for those who will craft the next generation of media,” Brooten said.
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The mission statement of RTD’s College of Mass Communication and Media Arts is “to teach students how to be responsible and creative in their media making. We cultivate an appreciation of the media's special role for citizens and professional media makers working across a spectrum of cultures and political systems. We nurture a universal desire for free expression.”
H.D. Motyl, interim RTD chair, believes in extending media literacy to the university as a whole.
“Since media is so ubiquitous, used by so many in all aspects of education, business, and entertainment, all SIU students should be media literate,” he said.
This literacy must also include the practice/making of media.
“Having media production skills, coupled with a deeply-rooted knowledge of the conceptual aspects of media, strengthen the marketability of students as they enter the workforce,” Motyl said.
Courses in the Sports Production specialization or in the Television/Video Production specialization, as well as the capstone course of the degree, Media in Society, solidify the interrelationship of media production with media studies, and the power of both working together.
Associate Professor Sarah Lewison notes that “humans are unique among all species in our capacity to communicate so elaborately — using images, words, motion, and poetics, packed with so much information.”
Our RTD program strives to teach, foster and nurture students to be responsible, literate, and aware citizens of the ever-expanding media world.
Meera Komarraju is the interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.