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Matt Bai is a political reporter and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, Bai graduated from Tufts in 1990 and received a Masters from the Columbia School of[…]

Media literacy needs to be taught.

Matt Bai: Well it’s . . . It’s like everything else in this country at this particular moment, which is we have not really caught up to changed realities technologically, and socially, and economically. We’ve not really dealt with change very well. The curriculum we’re teaching in schools is the same curriculum we were teaching 40 years ago by and large. But the world is nothing like it was 40 years ago, and you could say this on a whole vast arena of things in the country. So . . . You know media literacy is not . . . it’s not the consumer’s fault. We don’t teach it. We don’t . . . we don’t acknowledge that media as a concept has grown so complex and so diversified that you actually need to explain it to people. If you’re gonna teach Civics in, you know, grade school, then you . . . then part of civics is you ought to be teaching media. You have to explain . . . people have to learn what to expect. You’re not born knowing the differences in media, how it operates, and what your expectations should be. That maybe instead of teaching the Revolutionary War six times, we could teach the Revolutionary War three times and include, you know, some media literacy in the curriculum. So I, you know . . . I don’t think it’s the consumer’s fault. It’s just that we don’t . . . We don’t place any value on orienting people toward a really confusing media environment. And they get angry because their expectations are off.

Recorded on: 12/13/07