Media Moments Western Reserve Public Media


A Glossary of Media Literacy Terms

Broadcasting Producing and designing media content to appeal to a broad audience segment and offered on airways to a large number of people. The technology of broadcasting only applies to content carried through the airwaves.

Cablecasting The delivery of media content through underground or overhead cables. Refers to the technology of cable. Content production and design resembles narrowcasting.

Face-to-Face Communication The sender and receiver of information are in direct contact. The receiver may disagree, ask a question, or repeat information. The sender and receiver can engage in a dialogue about the message.

Feedback The process of communication whereby a person can disagree, ask a question, repeat information for understanding, or otherwise talk back in the communication process.

Gatekeepers Those in control of the flow of information. The gatekeeper can choose to make available or withhold information for public consumption. Newspaper publishers, editors and reporters, television producers, radio station owners and broadcasting executives have all been cited as examples of media gatekeepers.

Genre Specific kinds of media content, e.g. drama, comedy, situation comedy, talk shows, news, advertising, cartoons, etc. On Western Reserve PBS, we broadcast several genres: how-to programs, drama, public affairs, children’s programs, British comedies, documentaries, travelogues, etc. Each genre has its own general purpose and design.

Mass Media Any form of communication produced by a few people for the consumption by many people. Mass media are channels of communication through which messages flow. As the messages go through the channels, they are distorted. When people receive media messages they have no opportunity for immediate feedback with the producers of the messages.

Media Any physical object used to communicate. Common media are televisions, radios, telephones and newspapers. Media also extend to building materials, paint, sculpture, dance and other conventions for communicating ideas. Singular form of media is medium.

Media Content Messages which are produced by the few for the many and delivered to large audiences simultaneously.

Media Languages Media conventions, formats, symbols and narrative structures that cue the audience to meaning. The symbolic language of electronic media works much the same way as grammar works in print media.

Media Literacy The ability to read, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of media forms (television, print, radio, computers, etc.).

Media Technology The hardware used to create information and communicate it, such as radio, computers, telephones, satellites, printing presses, pencils, etc.

Media Use The way people interact with media. The use of media varies from person to person, group to group and at various times during an individual’s life.

Medium Singular for media. Television is a mass medium. Radios, televisions and newspapers are mass media.

Narrowcasting Producing and designing media content in order to target a highly specific segment of the population. Opposite of broadcasting.

Objective The ideal that the media producer is representing a balanced viewpoint on issues. The ideal that media producers are fair and accurate conduits for information. Opposite of subjective.

Representation The relationship between actual places, people, events and ideas and media content. Stereotypes are a common form of media representation.

Target Audience A group of people within a population that the media agency would like to reach. For instance, the “target audience” for PBS’s children’s programming isn’t “everyone” — it’s young children and their parents or caregivers. Just as common are the audiences targeted, sold and delivered to advertisers by media agencies. Groups are targeted on the basis of demographics (age, ethnicity, level of education, income, etc.), media use patterns, zip codes and other factors.

From KQED Center for Education & Lifelong Learning,

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