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
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.
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.
CML'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.
The Center for Media Literacy advocates a philosophy of "Empowerment through Education." This philosophy incorporates three intertwining concepts:
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
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
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.
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:
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
Tessa Jolls is President and CEO of the Center for Media Literacy, a position she has held since 1999. During that time, she restructured CML 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
During 2009-2010, she 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.
She created the concept, co-authored and published the CML MediaLit Kit, a framework for media literacy education that serves as centerpiece for all CML’s curriculum development and professional development. Works from the CML MediaLit Kit have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and Turkish. In 2010, she authored and published Media Literacy: A System for Change, providing teachers with a systematic approach for designing curriculum and featuring a toolkit that includes an e-book, a professional development module and tools based on Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS), CML's framework for both construction and deconstruction of media.
Training, Research and Implementation Projects
With Dr. Theresa Webb of UCLA, Jolls designed the curriculum structure and led CML’s multi-year implementation effort (2002 – present) for longitudinal evaluation and publishing of its middle-school violence prevention curriculum and professional development module: Beyond Blame: Challenging Violence in the Media. Seven Los Angeles school districts with more than 2,209 students participated in the UCLA study of the impact of professional development on curriculum effectiveness in influencing student attitudes and behavior as well as content acquisition. Results of this study demonstrate that teachers with one day’s training have a significant impact on student performance, with students mitigating their media consumption, having reduced aggression scores, and acquiring content knowledge.
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
Major Articles Highlighting CML’s Initiatives
“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
Originally, Jolls' professional expertise was in the organization development/strategic communication fields, with a focus on change management. Consulting regularly, Jolls in 1983 founded and for ten years, published and edited HR Reporter, a subscription-based newsletter covering human resource strategy, organization development and change management for senior executives at primarily Fortune 500 companies, with special reports on Europe and Asia. She sold HR Reporter to the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), a legal and labor publisher based in Washington. Her writings are cited in textbooks such as "Personnel Administration in Education: A Management Approach," by Ronald Rebore, (Prentice Hall, 6th Ed., 1998).
Before moving to Los Angeles in 1986, Jolls led the communications/change management practice for the St. Louis office of Towers Perrin, an international consulting firm specializing in human resource management for large corporations. She was a vice president/account manager for a regional promotion firm, handling consumer goods account, and began her career by teaching reading to adult illiterates. She earned a B.A. in English Education/Rhetoric from the University of Illinois and worked toward an M.B.A. from Southern Illinois University.
Her volunteer activities have included being a partner in BLSH Investor Club, and serving on advisory boards at her children's schools, Our Lady of Malibu School (OLM) and Malibu High School. Her work with OLM led to the school's receiving, in 1997-1998, the Bravo Award sponsored by Club 100 for the Education Division of the Music Center of Los Angeles County. This program, which linked Howard Gardner's "eight intelligences" research to arts/multi-media education, was also recognized in 1997 by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Jolls and her husband, Tom, live in Los Angeles and have a combined total of six children.
CML President, Tessa Jolls, explains the Five Key Questions for media literacy in this YouTube video.
Beth Thornton, Communications
Beth 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.
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.