About CML

A pioneer in its field, the Center for Media Literacy (CML) is an educational organization that provides leadership, public education, professional development and educational resources nationally and internationally. Dedicated to promoting and supporting media literacy education as a framework for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating with media content, CML works to help citizens, especially the young, develop critical thinking and media production skills needed to live fully in the 21st century media culture. The ultimate goal is to make wise choices possible.

Vision and Mission

Vision

The Center for Media Literacy (CML) is dedicated to a new vision of literacy for the 21st Century: the ability to communicate competently in all media forms as well as to access, understand, analyze, evaluate and participate with powerful images, words and sounds that make up our contemporary mass media culture. Indeed, we believe these skills of media literacy are essential for both children and adults as individuals and as citizens of a democratic society.

Mission

Our mission is to help children and adults prepare for living and learning in a global media culture by translating media literacy research and theory into practical information, training and educational tools for teachers and youth leaders, parents and caregivers of children.

 

"We must prepare young people for living in a world of powerful images, words and sounds." - UNESCO, 1982

 

CML Identity

CML LogoCML's graphic identity reflects the Center's mission for the 21st Century: Educating children and adults for living and learning in a global media world.

The Center provides leadership/public education, professional development and educational resources for the media literacy field in the United States.

CML's logo was designed and generously contributed by James Robie Design Associates, Los Angeles. Color design of the CML website is by Dave Matli at Atomix Creative, Los Angeles. Pam Watanabe contributed to the overall web design.

Educational Philosophy

The Center for Media Literacy advocates a philosophy of "Empowerment through Education." This philosophy incorporates three intertwining concepts:

  1. Media literacy is education for life in a global media world.

    For 500 years, since the invention of moveable type, we have valued the ability to read and write as the primary means of communicating and understanding history, cultural traditions, political and social philosophy and news of the day. In more recent times, traditional literacy skills ensured that individuals could participate fully as engaged citizens and functioning adults in society.

    Today families, schools and all community institutions share the responsibility for preparing young people for living and learning in a global culture that is increasingly connected through multi-media and influenced by powerful images, words and sounds.

  2. The heart of media literacy is informed inquiry.

    Through a four-step "inquiry" process of Awareness . . . Analysis . . . Reflection . . .Action, media literacy helps young people acquire an empowering set of "navigational" skills which include the ability to:

    • Access information from a variety of sources.
    • Analyze and explore how messages are "constructed" whether print, verbal, visual or multi-media.
    • Evaluate media's explicit and implicit messages against one's own ethical, moral and/or democratic principles.
    • Express or create their own messages using a variety of media tools.
    • Participate in a global media culture.

     

  3. Media literacy is an alternative to censoring, boycotting or blaming "the media."

    Deeply committed to the First Amendment and freedom of expression, media literacy does not promote partisan agendas or political points of view. The power of media literacy is its ability to inspire independent thinking and foster critical analysis. The ultimate goal of media education is to make wise choices possible.

Embracing this philosophy, the Center for Media Literacy is committed to media education as an essential and empowering life-skill for the 21st Century.

CML Program Services

Leadership and Public Education

 


Marieli Rowe (left) and Marty Rayala (right) of the National Telemedia Council present awards of appreciation for advancing media literacy in the USA to Alan Levitt, director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy and Elizabeth Thoman, CML president and Chair of the 1996 National Media Literacy Conference.

For over 30 years, CML has been a national, even international, voice explaining the importance of media literacy in today's culture and promoting its adoption by schools, afterschool programs, libraries, churches and community centers. We have provided fact sheets and information kits, news media interviews, articles, publications and reproducible resources designed to interpret and articulate the importance and promise of media literacy education in the United States.

 

CML now provides public education primarily through the development of this comprehensive website, providing its CML MediaLit Kit and covering current issues and topics, articles and reports, cases and implementation advice, resources for teaching, and information about training opportunities and activities in the media literacy field.

The basic framework outlined in CML's MediaLit Kit serves as the basis of all CML's leadership work, according to our philosophy of "empowerment through education."

Consulting and Training

 


CML president Tessa Jolls leads a seminar at the National Conference.

Through consulting and speaking engagements, CML provides inspiration, guidance and information about the media literacy field, basic media literacy pedagogy, and specific implementation of change management strategies and programs.

 

CML has pioneered more than two dozen model workshops for introducing teachers to the world of media literacy education, including theory/pedagogy, classroom practices, and topic areas like violence in the media, tobacco and alcohol advertising or race/gender issues in today's media culture.

As the demand for trained and experienced media literacy practitioners increases, the need for professional development and training opportunities also continues to grow. Furthermore, implementation programs which feature research-based approaches are critical to the development of the field, and CML is a leader in demonstrating how media literacy works.

Educational Resources

  • CML MediaLit Kit, updated regularly and originally produced in 2002, provides a basic framework for media literacy and a collection of foundational resources - posters, handouts, and activities - that can be used in classrooms, teacher in-service training or community education to explore the key questions and core concepts in the media literacy field.
  • Working with developers, producers or authors, CML originates new resource materials designed to meet the evolving needs of teachers and leaders in schools, churches, religious and community agencies.

History and Milestones

The Center for Media Literacy (CML) has been a pioneering force in the development and practice of media literacy in the United States. Its origins stem from Media&Values magazine, a publication begun in 1977 as a graduate school project by CML founder Elizabeth Thoman. Highlights of CML's history include:

Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls

  • CML provides leadership, teacher training and implementation programs, public education, plus publication and distribution of teaching resources for the media literacy field - locally, nationally and around the world.
  • In 2010, CML completed its comprehensive, systems-based approach to curriculum development, a toolkit called Media Literacy: A System for Change and launched its updated, research-based Middle School curriculum and professional development module for violence prevention called Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media. Additionally, a nutrition education/media literacy curricula and professional development module, Media Literacy: A Recipe for Action, was released after being tested in U.S. several locations.
  • In 2009, CML provided training and implementation consultation to Medios Claros, a media literacy advocacy organization in Lima, Peru.
  • In 2007, CML introduced Questions/TIPS, a new framework for analysis in both deconstructing and constructing media messages. Q/TIPS™ is a central feature of the Second Edition of CML's landmark book, Literacy for the 21st Century: An Overview and Orientation Guide for Media Literacy Education, published in 2008.
  • In 1999, Tessa Jolls (right) joined CML as President and CEO, partnering with founder Elizabeth Thoman (left) to further CML's mission and program into the 21st Century.
  • In 2002, CML introduced its CML MediaLit Kit™, a framework for teaching and learning in a media age. The MediaLit Kit™ is based on the thinking and writings of leading academics and practioners in media literacy over the past 50 years. Project SmartArt
  • In collaboration with the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Education Division of the Music center of L.A. and AnimAction, Inc., the Center received in 2001, one of 17 demonstration media literacy and the arts grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Endowment for the Arts. The 3-year project, titled Project SmartArt, provides a range of media literacy opportunities for teachers and students in inner city LA.
  • CML is a founding organizational member of the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA), a national membership organization chartered in 2001 to organize and host the National Media Education Conference every two years and to promote professional development in media literacy education in the USA. In 1996, CML hosted 350 teachers and leaders at the Second National Media Literacy Conference in Los Angeles which, along with the 1995 conference in Boone, NC, established the precedent and framework for national conferences in the media literacy field.
  • Norman Felton and Elizabeth ThomanThrough the Felton Media Literacy Scholars Program, established in 1997 with a major gift from television pioneer Norman Felton, CML has established a national model for teacher training in the field of media literacy education. Hundreds of Southern California teachers have participated in CML's training events.
  • Hundreds of teachers attended CML's former Crash Course in Media Literacy which was held periodically at the Center or as in-service programs arranged by educational organizations, such as the California Association of Independent Schools, Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Bureau of Jewish Education and numerous public school districts throughout Southern California and around the country. 
  • CML's pioneering curriculum, Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media, first published in 1995 with grants from the Carnegie Corporation and other foundations, is the most comprehensive teaching package available on the subject. Acclaimed by teachers as well as media professionals, the program has units for Elementary, Middle School, Teens and Parents plus a Community outreach component.
  • From 1991-1995, CML created the first generation of teaching tools about the media published in the U.S., including: How to Analyze the News Media, Parenting in a TV Age, Break the Lies that Bind/Sexism in the Media, Citizenship in a Media Age and TV Alert: A Wake-Up Guide to Television Literacy.
  • CML averages thousands of unique visits per day on its website, www.medialit.org – the most referenced media literacy site on the World Wide Web.

Staff

Tessa Jolls, President and CEO
Beth Thornton, Communications
Elizabeth Thoman, Founder
Professional Associates

Technical and Administrative Team: CML retains a full complement of technical and administrative professionals who contribute to the development and maintenance of the CML website and ongoing operations.

Tessa Jolls, President and CEO

Photo of Tessa JollsTessa Jolls is President and CEO of the Center for Media Literacy, a position she has held since 1999. She also founded the Consortium for Media Literacy, a nonprofit which provides research and a monthly newsletter publication.  During her tenure at CML, she restructured the organization to focus, grow and change, preparing to meet the demand for an expanded vision of literacy for the 21st Century. Her primary focus is working in partnership to demonstrate how media literacy works through school and community-based implementation programs. She actively contributes to the development of the media literacy field internationally through her speaking, writing and consulting, with curriculum development and research projects, and through publishing and disseminating new curricular and training materials.

She created the concept, co-authored and published the CML MediaLit Kit, a collection of media literacy resources featuring professional development and curricular materials.  These resources all center around CML’s research-based framework for media literacy education, which is recognized world-wide as an “onramp” for teaching and learning that is consistent and can be replicated, measured, evaluated and scaled.  Works from the CML MediaLit Kit have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Portuguese and Bosnian.   CML’s comprehensive Trilogy, called  Media Literacy: A System for Learning AnyTime, AnyWhere provides the basics for educators interested in change management and the new role of media librarians in schools, as well as for integrating media literacy throughout the curriculum through media deconstruction (“reading”) and construction/production (“writing”).  

Training, Research and Implementation Projects

Jolls designed the new curricular structure and led CML’s multi-year implementation effort to test and implement its revised middle-school violence prevention curriculum, Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media.  CML’s longitudinal study, done with UCLA’s Southern California Injury Prevention Research Center, evaluated both the effectiveness of its framework and Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media.  The study was published in 2013 in Injury Prevention, a peer-reviewed journal. This landmark study showed positive results for students’ acquiring knowledge and changing attitudes towards violence, as well as for behavioral changes in regards to use of media and in a lessened rise in aggressive behaviors.

Similar curricular structures are employed in CML’s other health curricula:  Smoke Detectors! (published in 2013) and A Recipe for Action (published in 2012). CML’s health curricula meet Common Core Standards for language arts.

During 2009-2010, Jolls piloted (at three schools) online multi-media professional development modules and curricula with interactive media technology platform featuring nutrition education that met technology, language arts and health education standards for middle school.  In 2009, Jolls designed and implemented professional development programs for four schools in Lima, Peru in conjunction with Medios Claros, a nonprofit Peruvian service organization, as well as for a private Midwestern school for girls.  From 2001-2005, she led efforts to gain and implement first federal demonstration grant for media literacy with Project SMARTArt, in partnership with LA County’s Music Center Education Division and Los Angeles Unified School District. She served as project manager and coordinating partner, as well as organizer of Education Forum to report findings at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

During 2004-2007, Jolls was engaged by LA Nutrition Network and Youzeum in Missouri to provide nutrition-related programs, and the Museum of Tolerance to provide two full day media literacy institutes. She assisted the Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office with curriculum design. She secured a state grant for “Smoke Detectors” on smoking prevention from Orange County Health Care Agency in 2003.

 Speaking Engagements / Policy Initiatives

  • Chinese Bridge Delegation (Beijing, 2013)
  • Symposium on the Historical Roots of Media Literacy (Harrington  School/URI, 2013)
  • Internews in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Sarajevo/Konjic, 2013)
  • UNESCO International Conference on Media and Information Literacy for Knowledge Societies (Moscow 2012)
  • National Association for Media Literacy Education / Introduction of Voices of Media Literacy Project (Philadelphia 2011)
  • National Charter Schools Conference (Chicago, 2010)
  • IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum (Doha, Qatar, 2010)
  • Family Online Safety Institute (Washington, DC, 2008-2009)
  • U.S. Department of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference (Washington, DC 2009)
  • Advertising Literacy Forum, sponsored by Federal Trade Commission (Washington, DC March, 2009)
  • Symposium on Character Education, sponsored by U.S. Dept. of Education Safe and Drug Free Schools (Washington, DC 2008)
  • International Media Literacy Research Forum, sponsored by OfCom (London, 2008)
  • East Bay Independent Schools Association Conference (Oakland, CA 2008)
  • Information Session on Media Literacy, sponsored by U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Technology (Washington, D.C., 2008)
  • Kuwait Media Literacy Symposium (Kuwait City, 2007)
  • Korea Press Foundation Media Literacy Conference (Seoul, Korea 2007)
  • National Media Education Conference (2007, 2005, 2003, 2001)
  • Cable in the Classroom/National PTA Media Education Speaker Series (2004-2005)
  • International Congress on Media (Mexico City, 2003)
  • KCET, “A Place of Our Own” and KTLA TV Pacesetter program (Los Angeles 2008, 2005, 2003)

Major Articles Highlighting CML’s Initiatives

“Voices of Media Literacy,” by Tessa Jolls, Barbara J. Walkosz and Dee Morgenthaler, published in Media Literacy Education in Action, Edited by Belinha S. DeAbreu and Paul Milhailidis, Dec. 2013.

“Evaluation of a school-based violence prevention media literacy curriculum,” by Kathryn R. Fingar and Tessa Jolls, Injury Prevention, Aug. 2013.

“Media Literacy: Change Management,” by Tessa Jolls, e-book published at www.medialit.com, 2012.

Media Literacy: Deconstruction/Construction, by Tessa Jolls, e-book published at www.medialit.com, 2011.

“The Impact of Technology on Character Education,” by Tessa Jolls, presented at Character Education Symposium sponsored by U.S. Dept. of Education, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Aug., 2008.

“Globalocal: Media Literacy for the Global Village,” by Tessa Jolls, Barbara Walkosz and Mary Ann Sund, presented at International Research Forum for OfCom in London, 2008.

“The Media is the Message:  Invasive Messages Require Defensive Teaching,” by Grace Rubenstein, Edutopia Magazine, Aug.-Sept. 2008.

“What’s on the Menu? Linking Media Literacy, Nutrition and Consumerism,” by Regina Cabrera, Middle Ground: the Magazine of Middle Level Education, Vol. 10, No. 4, April 2007, p. 42-43. Feature story on CML nutrition program designed and delivered by Tessa Jolls.

“Project SMARTArt: Innovative Strategies for Teaching Media Literacy and the Arts,” by Tessa Jolls and Denise Grande, U.S. Dept. of Education, May 2005, Arts Education Policy Review, Sept.-Oct., 2005.

“An Overview of the Center for Media Literacy,” by Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls, Yearbooks of the National Society for the Study of Education, with theme of “Media Literacy: Transforming Curriculum and Teaching,” Blackwell Publishing, December, 2004.

“Media Literacy: A National Priority for A Changing World,” by Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls, American Behavioral Scientist, Vol. 48, No. 1, Sept. 2004.

CML President, Tessa Jolls, explains the Five Key Questions for media literacy in this YouTube video.

Beth Thornton, Communications

Photo of Beth ThorntonBeth Thornton joined the Center for Media Literacy as Communications Director in 2008. Her primary focus is to ensure that the Center's educational programs and resources are accurately presented and easily accessible to a wide audience. She teams with writers, web developers and graphic designers to promote the Center's work in media literacy via web and print.

Thornton has held management positions in the communications field for more than 20 years, primarily in the medical technology field where her responsibilities included production of educational training materials for doctors and nurses in a variety of formats and languages. She received her BA in Liberal Studies from UC Santa Barbara and has recently completed a two-year Writers' Program in Creative Writing through UCLA Extension.

An avid reader and writer, Thornton has spent many volunteer hours in local classrooms reading with elementary school students, and is active in youth athletics. She lives with her husband and three children in Santa Barbara, California.

Professional Associates

CML has an international network of professionals with whom we work on interdisciplinary teams. Advocacy, curriculum development, training and implementation programs and evaluations are all part of the services offered by CML.

Medios Claros, Peru
Medios Claros, an educational non-profit organization in Peru, uses the CML Framework to establish media literacy programs in Lima schools. The group was founded by three media and marketing professionals who were concerned about the lack of any formal education in Peru to help consumers understand the influence of media on their lives.
Daniel Chappell, President
Daniel Chappell holds an Economics degree from Universidad de Lima and an MBA from ESAN. He has been involved in the media field, public relations and marketing with several companies and media outlets. He has taught graduate courses throughout Peru. Chappell is currently the coordinator for the Radio Committee in addition to his work with Medios Claros.
 
Jenny Aparicio, Director
Jenny Aparicio graduated from Universidad de Lima with a degree in Communications and Advertising. She has served as a producer at several advertising agencies and was the editor of a law magazine. She has held administrative positions with IT companies.  Aparicio is also a basketball coach at Villa Caritas School.
 
Sara Guzman, Director
Sara Guzman has a Communications degree from Universidad de Lima, and a degree in design from Toulouse Lautrec Center. She has been a producer of major cultural events and TV programs for several organizations. Guzman also works as an Interior Designer.