Media Literacy in the USA

History of Media Literacy in the USA - Decade by Decade

While not an exhaustive survey, these historical papers, original source documents, conference reports, articles and reflections trace influences on the growth of media literacy in the USA. Even before the term "media literacy" was coined, pioneering teachers and thinkers were making important connections that would prepare the way for a new vision of literacy for the 21st century.

2010 -- : Foundation for basic media literacy laid; longitudinal evaluation demonstrating the effectiveness of CML framework, and continued world-wide interest in media literacy education.

  • "Learner at the Center of a Networked World" published by Aspen Institute's Task Force on Internet learning; report calls for media literacy and social/emotional literacies to be at center of education.
  • The Core Concepts: Fundamental to Media Literacy Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow published by Journal of Media Literacy Education.
  • Elizabeth Thoman Media Literacy Archives introduced at University of Rhode Island Library's Special Collections.
  • Longitudinal Research Study conducted by UCLA on the effectiveness of media literacy in students' gaining content knowledge, as well as affecting attitudes and behaviors positively in a violence prevention application; published in peer-reviewed journal Injury Prevention.
  • Media Literacy: A System for Learning AnyTime, Anywhere published by CML:  addresses onramp to media literacy with units on Change Management Deconstruction and Critical Construction to provide consistent, replicable, measurable and scalable approach for institutionalizing media literacy education.

2000 - 2010: New governmental interest, professional organization and expanding educational connections establish institutional foundation for growth.


1995  -  2000: Collaborative efforts, publishing and national conferences provide momentum for the movement and opportunities for professional growth.


1990 - 1995: The call for media literacy gathers steam. Pioneering projects build leadership; curriculum connections and teacher education create momentum


1980 - 1990: Meanwhile, outside the US, the field was flourishing


1977-1993: Media&Values Magazine chronicled growing influence of media culture and published early activities for the media literacy classroom


1970 - 1980: Early programs paved the way but U.S. wasn't ready


1960-1970: First experiments with media in schools


Pre-1960: Early visionaries prepare the way