“Do you consider yourself media literate? Of course I am I read the news everyday!” A person who reads the news everyday doesn’t mean that he/she is media literate. In order to be considered a media literate citizen, one should be able to see through the prejudices and stereotypes and distinguish facts from opinions. Not only distinguishing, but also questioning the authenticity of the source of information being used. I believe that being media literate is having the power to deconstruct a media message; to be able to identify who created it, and what is the underlying hidden message beneath it. It is the power to decide what information to accept and what to reject. Furthermore, a media literate person should be immune to all sorts of biases.

We often tend to take the word bias for granted as if its only about political biases, where as this term describes a general tendency towards any specific ideology or perspective. Bias can be based on race, gender, age, religion, and physical appearances. Ever since I was young I have this preconception that good reporters are ‘beautiful’ and dress in a typical manner. The media created a virtual image in my mind of how a sound figure should look like. I think this is a very important challenge that media poses on its audience especially those who are young and haven’t developed ‘bias detectors’. We, as media consumers, tend to think of those who look ‘good’ or dress ‘nice’ as authentic and trustworthy. Mass media defines a set of physical characteristics that are considered ‘beautiful’ and desirable in our society. Those messages are skewed towards an ideal body image that promotes a certain type of people regardless of their authenticity.

There is no specific course that one can take to become media literate; rather it is a process that teaches us how to be skeptical as media consumers. Media literacy is not only the ability to reject certain messages but also the ability to correct them and relate them to our personal life. A possible solution to this challenge is informing young generations about physical biases and how ‘beautiful’ isn’t always right. It starts with a basic understanding of personal biases whereby they become aware of their individual discriminations. Then they pass on this knowledge to analyze media messages and detect the biases they pose on others around them. With media literacy being taught at an early age, we will develop a conscious nation that is critical and objective.