by Yasmin Soul
Communications students at York University in Toronto got together Friday to hold a discussion called Media Democracy Day about how to deconstruct media.
The small group was inspired by a class assignment and it led them to take further action. On a Friday at 12:45 a group of students with diverse backgrounds engaged in discussions about media literacy.
Jean Durocher was one of the students who helped organize the discussion. He said he is sick of how media has become entertainment instead of information.
“I want information because I want to be an active part of democracy. I don’t want infotainment I have plenty of movies I can watch,” Durocher said.”This is democracy and we need to be informed without blood guts and violence.”
Durocher wants to change the way people passively consume media. He believes learning how to deconstruct the message within in the news is not only important but necessary.
“In this generation we are just completely submerged in media and we have got to raise the media literacy level,” he said.
He was happy to take theory from a class and put it in action.
“When you take a university course it is all theory and you don’t really apply it to real life or politics. We want people to see that what we are learning here is important and can be used everyday,” Durocher explained.
The discussion touched on a variety of topics including comparing coverage of the recent Ottawa shooting that happened at the War Memorial. Students compared American coverage to Canadian as well as the way the media portrays shooters depending on their racial background.
Everyone’s voice was heard at the meeting and many of the students felt passionate about a variety of topics, including the lack of ethnic diversity shown by most news outlets.
“You can definitely see there is not a lot of diversity especially with the corporates being more predominately white. In North America there are a lot of immigrants so there are a lot cultures that are not really represented through this type of medium,” Mary Mendoza said.
Latonya Bibby also attended the event. She is a part of a school group called Fight Back Socialism Club. Even though she has always wanted to go into journalism she is concerned about bias in the media.
“The lack of actual voice … alienates all these people and it is incredibly frustrating,” Libby said.
Many of the students who participated in the Media Democracy Day said they found it incredibly informative and said it touched on issues they were passionate about.
Melissa Nsiah said one topic that really interested her was that media ignores the perceptions of First Nations peoples. She believes there are many issues not being discussed.
“There is a lot not being shown, especially the oppression [of] First Nations as a whole–the kidnapping, the rapes and the violence against First Nations women and men,” Melissa said.
This event was the first of its kind at York. The communications students who planned this discussion say they hope to create a club at the school which focuses on media literacy and deconstructing bias within the news.