Voices of Media Literacy: International Pioneers Speak : Jean-Pierre Golay Interview Transcript

DATE OF INTERVIEW: Sunday, August 28, 2011
INTERVIEWER:   Marieli Rowe
Jean-Pierre Golay, former director of the Centre d’Initiation aux Communications de Masse (CIC), Lausanne, Switzerland, pioneered media literacy programs during the Nazi era, uncovering the power of propaganda and introducing the first educational television programs in Switzerland. He is now retired and living in Madison, Wisconsin.
Note from JP Golay: The essay below is based on an interview by Marieli Rowe on August 28, 2011. The responses have been modified slightly for clarity and supplemented by translations or adaptations from the dissertation “Education Aux Medias” by Jean-Pierre Golay, written for the symposium of Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 1988.
Certainly avenues of mass communication provoke a certain level of anxiety in many people, if not all of us. On the other hand, the positive contribution of mass media to our society is considerable. Media Literacy is an attempt to get the most out of some contributions and to limit the power of others.
The reader might think sometimes that the author loses his focus to tell anecdotes having little to do with media literacy; the reader would be mistaken. Each of these “anecdotes” encourages you to look around, listen, question, discuss, take time to think.
They emphasize an essential feature of media education: the involvement of the media educator in all his life, all acts, all opportunities to decipher signs addressed to him by the media, even down to the most intimate resounding chords. For a dedicated educator, it’s almost a way of life. J.P. Golay   December 2011
Acknowledgement: Thanks for the collaboration; James Krikelas and Galen Gibson-Cornell.
Selected Questions:
Why and how did you become involved in media education?
Are you talking about Hitler years?
Among the Swiss, what would you say are the major “bombs?”
When did you start thinking the need to be a part of education?
How did that develop into paying attention to radio and television? How did that evolve into your theory?
What made you think that this was not the right way to teach? Where did the change come from?
This was the very early evolution of watching the responses of children to visual stimuli and how teachers learned to make use of that in an educational way as an inspiration for a curriculum. That was a very early curriculum in visual literacy.
You started public television in Geneva?
Teaching younger kids, already, to make a choice?
Are there some milestones in the field that you’d like to mention? How far do you think the field has come? Do you think it has moved in the direction you think is best, why or why not? What would you like to see happen? You were able to do this with the parents outside of school. How did you penetrate the school system?
So you were able to institute a diploma in media education? As a specialty?
How do you feel about the state of the media in this country (USA)?