Talking past each other: Academic and media framing of literacy

Katherine Ognyanova
Published Online: May 31, 2010
Abstract | References | Full Text: HTML, PDF (548 KB)


The technological and social shifts of the past several decades have brought about new modes of learning, participation and civic engagement. As young people work, play and socialize in online spaces, the academic community is exploring the challenges and possibilities of education in the digital age.  New definitions of literacy emerge to address the importance of digital skills, play and collaboration. This paper explores the diverging perspectives on literacy adopted by new media scholars and old media outlets. Thematic coverage in the New York Times from the last four years is analysed and compared to academic texts produced in the same period. Measures of salience for literacy as a topic are used in conjunction with framing analysis based on semantic mapping. The results of this study suggest that mainstream media employ a legacy literacy frame, stressing basic language competencies and traditional institutions. That perspective is markedly different from the academic discourse, which emphasizes a host of new social, technological and critical evaluation skills.

Keywords: New literacies, new media literacy, media, framing, semantic analysis

Biographical Statement

Katherine Ognyanova is a Doctoral Candidate in Communication at the University of Southern California. She does research with a broad focus on transformations of the media system and social aspects of technology. Katherine is interested in the application of network analysis methods to communication and media studies. As a research assistant at USC, she works on projects exploring scientific collaboration and virtual team formation and studies the impact of new media on engagement and intergroup dialogue in local communities. Katherine holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science and M.A. in Virtual Culture from the University of Sofia, as well as an M.A. in Communication from USC.


User Comments
Author: LegoLab » Digital Culture & Education: Beyond ‘new’ literacies
1 June 2010 09:06:53 PM

[…] Abstract | References | Full Text: HTML, PDF (548 KB) Education remix: New media, literacies, and the emerging digital geographies […]

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