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Media Literacy: Glossary

Media literacy encompasses the practices that allow people to access, critically evaluate, and create or manipulate media.

A - Terms

Access - The ability of  media consumers to produce their own texts and to have those texts acknowledged by the agenda setting media.  Also, the ability of media consumers to respond to the dominant media. 

Advertorial - A word that combines "advertisement" and "editorial".  Advertorials are ads that have been written to look like articles. 

Affinity Bias - the preference or tendency to appreciate people like us.  We are more likely to get along with others who are the same as us. 

Agenda -setting - The ability of the media to tell people what and whom to talk and think about.  Also refers to those media that have more credibility than their competition. 

Analog - Media software which has a physical quality and presence. 

Analyis - The examination and interpretation of information gathered by the reporter.  Generally, journalistic analysis is done by correspondents who are very experienced in reporting on a particular topic.

Angle - The approach a journalist takes to a news story.  It's the central point of the story, around which the journalist organizes the information and research.  One story may have many possible angles. 

Attention Economy -  the theory that the attention span of online users is a limited commodity that is subject to market forces. 

Audience - The group of consumers for whom the media text was constructed as well as anyone else who is exposed to the text. 

B - Terms

Backgrounder - A story that helps explain a current news event.  A backgrounder assumes readers have heard about the news event but provides more context to help understand it better.  Backgrounders are often written for big complicated news stories. 

Bias - Partiality, preference, or prejudice for/against a person, thing or idea. 

Branding - The process by which a commodity in the marketplace is known primarily for the image it projects rather than any actual quality. 

C - Terms

Censorship - The practice of suppressing a text or part of a text that is considered objectionable according to certain standards. 

Circular Reasoning - a logical fallacy in which the reasoner begins with what they are trying to end with.  The components of a circular argument are often logically valid because if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. 

Connote/Connotation - A description of value, meaning or ideology associated with a media text that is added to the text by the audience.

Construct or Construction - The process by which a media text is shaped and given meaning through a process that is subject to a variety of decisions and is designed to keep the audience interested in the text. 

Consumers -  The audience for whom a commercial media text is constructed and who responds to the text with commercial activity. 

Convergence - The merging of previously separate communication industries such as publishing, computers, film, music and broadcasting, made possible by advances in technology. 

Critical - A reflective position on the meaning, biases or value messages of a text. 

Critical Autonomy - the process by which a member of the audience is able to read a media text in a way other than the preferred reading. Also used to describe the ability of media literacy students to deconstruct texts outside the classroom. 

Critical Viewing - The ability to use critical thinking skills to view, question, analyze and understand issues presented overtly and covertly in movies, videos, television and other visual media. 

Cut - An edited transition between two images in which one image is immediately replaced by another. 

D - Terms

Deceptive Imagery - a broad term used to describe images (photos, videos, graphs, etc.) that have been manipulated and/or presented out of context. 

Deepfakes - a common type of deceptive imagery.  Deepfakes are videos and images where a person is replaced with someone else's likeness.  They use artificial intelligence to manipulate content and deceive the public.  The term "deepfake" is a portmanteau for "deep learning" and "fake".   Portmanteau is a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others.  


E - Terms

Editorial - The content of a news or magazine publication that isn't ads.  Usually, this will be articles, such as news stories, analysis and opinion.  Online editorial includes video, audio and interactive content.  An editorial can also be an article written by the editor, explaining the stance of that particular news organisation on an issue. 

Exclusive - A big or important story that only one news organisation has reported on.  Sometimes called a "scoop". 

F - Terms

Fact - The basic building block of journalism.  A fact is something that can be proved to be true by objective methods.  Most news stories rely on reporting the facts about an event or issue.  Fact is different to opinion. 

Feature - Longer format stories that explore an event, an issue or a person in more depth than a news report.

Five W's (+H) - The six questions that a journalist will try to answer when reporting on a story.  What happened?  Who was involved? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Why did it happen? And how?  Often, not all six can be answered at once, leading to ongoing coverage of an event or issue. 

Freedom of Information - Laws that require government bodies to release information to the public on request, journalists often make FOI requests as part of their research into stories. 

Freelance journalists (freelancers) - Reporters who works for themselves, but either contract with media organisations or sell their stories to news agencies and organisations.  They're different to citizen journalists because they're professionally qualified and published in the news media. 

G - Terms

Graphics - Illustrations that visually explain part of a story in a visual way.  For example, diagrams or charts. 

H - Terms

Hard news - Factual reporting on important events or story developments.  It does not include opinion, analysis, human interest stories or areas of reporting such as reviews, lifestyle or humour. 

Headline - A short phrase at the top of an online or printed article.  A headline summarises or draws attention to a story to encourage people to read it. 

Human interest stories - Stories about individual people and their lives.  Sometimes they show the impact of an issue on a person, to make the issue more relatable.  They're also used to provide color and variety to a news homepage, newspaper or TV program, and are frequently published on social media sites. 

I - Terms

Inverted pyramid - A common method for writing a news story, where information is prioritised according to importance.  

Investigative journalism - When a journalist conducts an in-depth investigation about one topic, such as corruption or violent or corporate crimes. This type of journalism can take a long time. 

J - Terms

Journalists - People who find, research and present information to the public as news or current affairs. 

K - Terms

L - Terms

Leak -  to allow secret information to become generally known. 

Libel - a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression; a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt; defamation of a person by written or representational means. 

Lie - an assertion of something known or believed by the speaker or writer to be untrue with intent to deceive. 

M - Terms

Malinformation - genuine information that is shared to cause harm, often by moving information designed to stay private into the public sphere. 

Media - A term for communication outlets used to deliver information.  They can be books, films, paintings, songs, TV shows, poems, video games, magazines, podcasts, music videos, newspapers, web forums, email, newsletters, tweets, Snapchat stories, street art, protest signs, photos, Facebook posts, pamphlets etc.  The plural of media is medium. 

Media Bias - Media bias is the bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in how information is reported or events are covered. 

Media Literacy - a skill set that promotes critical engagement with messages produced by the media. 

Misinformation - incorrect or misleading information. 

N - Terms

Narrowcasting - the dissemination of information (usually via Internet, radio, newspaper, or television) to a narrow audience; not to the broader public at-large. 

Net Neutrality - the concept that all data on the internet should be treated equally by corporations, such as internet service providers, and governments, regardless of content, user, platform, application, or device. 

New Media - any media - from newspaper articles and blogs to music and podcasts - that are delivered digitally. 

Newshole- a journalism term that stands for the amount of space available daily for news in a newspaper.  The column inches reserved for newshole are usually the remaining spaces after paid advertisements are filled. 

O - Terms

Objective Journalism - Objectivity in journalism aims to help the audience make up their own mind about a story, providing the facts alone and then letting the audiences interpret those on their own.  Objective reporting is meant to portray issues and events in a neutral and unbiased manner, regardless of the writer's opinion or personal beliefs. 

Online Piracy - the practice of downloading and distributing copyrighted content digitally without permission, such as music or software. 

Opinion - A view or judgement formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.  Or a statement of advice by an expert on a professional matter. 

P - Terms

Phishing - a type of fraud in which victims are tricked into disclosing bank-account or credit-card details, passwords, or other sensitive information by bogus e-mails or text messages, usually purporting to be from a bank or other trustworthy source. 

Podcasting - the process of making digital recordings of radio programs that people can download from the Internet. 

Point of View - a particular attitude or way of considering a matter. 

Polarize - to separate or make people separate into two groups with completely opposite opinions.

Propaganda - biased information, ideas, opinions, or images, often only giving one part of an argument, that are broadcast, published, or in some other way spread with the intention of influencing people's opinions. 

Pseudo-Event - an event produced by a communicator with the sole purpose of generating media attention and publicity.  These events lack real news value but still become the subject of media coverage. 

Q - Terms

R - Terms

Rumor - a currently circulating story or report of uncertain or doubtful truth. 

S - Terms

Saturation Advertising - refers to a company's general strategy of flooding a marketplace with ad messages. 

Selective Retention - the tendency of people to retain only part of the information to which they are exposed; usually they retain the information that supports their own attitudes or beliefs. 

Sensationalism - a way of getting people's interest by using shocking words or by presenting facts and events as worse or more shocking than they really are. 

Slander - the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another's reputation. 

SPAM - unsolicited usually commercial messages (such as e-mails, text messages, or Internet postings) sent to a large number of recipients or posted in a large number of places. 

Spyware - software that collects information about how someone uses the Internet, or personal information such as passwords, without the user knowing about it. 

Stereotype - a set idea that people have about what someone or something is like. Stereotypes are often unfair or untrue. 

Subjectivity - the influence of personal beliefs or feelings, rather than facts. 

Suppression - the action of suppressing something such as an activity or publication. 

T - Terms

Trend - a general development or change in a situation / the way that people are behaving. 

Trust - to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable. 

U - Terms

V - Terms

Verify - to prove that something exists or is true, or to make certain that something is correct. 

W - Terms

X - Terms

Y - Terms

Z - Terms

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