Voices of Media Literacy: International Pioneers Speak : Elizabeth Thoman Interview Transcript

DATE OF INTERVIEW:   Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011
Until the internet came along, everything was about television. As long as media literacy was about television, it could be dismissed as not being very important because television was not being used by educated people (or so they say!). But as soon as the internet hit everyday grassroots families, then we transformed into a totally different culture – and media literacy became a critical skill for learning to live in that mediated culture. 
Elizabeth Thoman now devotes her time and photographic talent to Healing Petals, a collection of unique photographs to stimulate meditation, reflection and prayer, as well as to media literacy issues. She founded Media&Values Magazine in 1977, and the Center for Media Literacy in 1989. She is one of four founders of the Partnership for Media Education, formed in 1997 to promote professional development in the field through organizing and hosting the National Media Education Conference. In 2001 PME evolved into a national membership organization, the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA) which was renamed the National Association for Media Literacy Education. In 2002, Thoman received the Daniel J. Kane Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Dayton (OH) and in 2006 received the Leaders in Learning Award from Cable in the Classroom for a lifetime of leadership in media literacy education. A Roman Catholic nun since 1964, she is a member of the progressive Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Iowa. She began her career as a journalism and English teacher. 
Selected Questions:
How did you become involved in media education?
Now, would you say then that this was your goal…to build understanding that media IS our culture and that we really have to understand the implications of that?
What were some milestones that you noted along the way, for yourself and for the field?
What were some other early influences?
Was there any effort to actually create classroom curriculum?
Why do you think media literacy developed in other countries but not so much in the U.S.?
What about the educational philosophy of the field? Was there any attempt to try to unify all these individual efforts pedagogically?
Do you feel like the field has moved in the direction you were hoping for and that you think is best?
What were some surprises along the way? 
When you look forward, are there some things you’d like to see happen?
For complete text of interview go to PDF.