EcoMedia literacy

A Letter from the Editors

Media Literacy from an Ecological Perspective: A New Normal that Makes us Question What Was Normal

As we publish our first online issue of The Journal of Media Literacy, we are keenly

aware that this is not just a change in format, but also an adaptation to an

ever-changing media environment. It is part of the evolution of culture, suddenly greatly

accelerated by unforeseen, indeed catastrophic events, yet inevitable if seen over the

passage of time. A global crisis such as the pandemic we are experiencing right now,

followed by the worldwide demonstrations for racial justice and systemic reform are

exposing invisible problems that we have been living with for too long. The “new normal”

which has disrupted the very nature of our daily lives is certainly making us reconsider

and unravel some of the twisted normal we became accustomed to before. With the

unprecedented extra time we now have at home to breathe and think, we have an

opportunity to collaboratively imagine a new way forward toward a better world.

 

Through NTC’s 65-plus years of working to create a media literate, global society, we

have long been familiar with this important concept of change, at the local and global

level. It begins with the awareness of the ongoing adaptation to the changing

environment in all living things, from the microscopic to the macroscopic. The study of

Ecology, well known as a field in the study of nature, can also be applied to human

adaptation, and in particular, we have been focused on education and the development

of the child in an increasingly media saturated environment. We call it the Ecology of

Childhood.

Marieli’s background in biology fueled her interest in the study of the interaction of

evolving ecosystems and their impact on all living things within their changing

environments. This eventually translated into the subject of her children and what

constituted their world. It was a natural transition to think in terms of the Ecology of

Childhood when she considered how new media were changing the environment of her

children’s home. When a baby is born, he or she faces a very limited world of the

mother, father, or maybe someone else. The mother is the first impression in the

environment of a newborn baby. And then the child’s world grows and expands to the

home, the neighborhood, churches and school. In a natural environment all this can

progress at a pace commensurate with the child's normal brain development. But

today's children enter into the new media world even at birth, faced with visual stimuli

that are very strong. When you put a baby in front of television or other visual media, a

whole new experience is there, one that exposes the young brain to stimuli that it is not

yet prepared for. Much of the new brain research corroborates that media can stimulate

new brain synapses; there are connections and adaptations made within each individual

that impact the entire ecosystem of human culture.

As we were introduced to the concept of ecomedia literacy, we thought the connection

was a natural fit for our journal and that prompted us to collaborate with The Journal of

Sustainability Education, edited by Clare, and our invited guest editors, Antonio, Jeff,

and Theresa. But in the process of collaboration, this group of scholars has expanded

our understanding of the ecological perspective of media literacy beyond what we first

imagined. They are calling for a paradigm shift to the very core of how we think. It must

begin with an awareness of how the stories and metaphors we think with quite literally

shape how we perceive the world. Media educators need to reframe the way we tell our

story in terms of media’s ecological footprint - the physical impact of the structure of

media on our environment - AND media’s ecological mindprint - belief systems and

thought patterns that grow from how we spend our attention and focus. This will require

a substantial shift from a mechanistic, industrial, consumerist worldview to an

ecological, conserver perspective of our world, in which we see the interconnections of

humans and nature as one and the same. Those of us working in media literacy

education need to ask how we can ethically co-create a balanced, healthy relationship

between media, society, and the environment.

We thank the editors and the contributing authors of this issue for the brave challenge

they have set before us. With JML’s new digital format, we want the conversation to

continue. You are looking at the first phase of our publication. In the second phase, we

want responses, discussions, and works of inspiration from practitioners and students of

all ages that evolve from the interaction with these articles. In the third phase, we hope

to create a printed publication, showing the complete exploration of the theme and

combining the best of the online collection. We want the work of these scholars to

inspire you to interact, respond, and adapt within your own local environment. Share

what you are thinking and doing with us so that we can see the incremental steps of

change within the larger ecosystem of our world.

Thank you!

Marieli Rowe

Editor, JML

Executive Director, National Telemedia Council

Karen Ambrosh

Managing Editor, JML

President, National Telemedia Council

The Journal of

Media Literacy

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