The Transitional Phase

While educators began to ask important ideological questions about the media during the facing-it phase, the transitional phase marks a distinctive shift towards a media literacy movement.

The transitional phase began in the late 1980s and remains in effect today.  This phase aims to “empower students, or viewers, critically process the media messages” (Guo-Ming 2007).  It was at this time that media literacy became a prominent and well-known issue.

During this phase, media literacy conferences, meetings, and associations began to appear.  In fact, two international conferences, UNESCO’s “Educating for the Media and the Digital Age” and “Summit 2000 – Children Youth and the Media: Beyond the Millennium” brought together representatives from over 60 countries (Guo-Ming 2007).

Check out the “Summit 2000” website here: Summit 2000 Conference

For more information on the UNESCO conference check out this PDF file:


Moreover, dozens of media literacy associations started to form. Associations such as The Northwest Media Literacy Institute (1993), The Center for Media and Values (1989), and the National Alliance for Media Education were all formed to promote media literacy education (Guo-Ming 2007).

The media literacy education proved influential as a 1999 survey showed that 48 of the 50 states had at least one element of media education in its curriculum (Guo-Ming 2007).

Walsh described the transitional phase like this:

We are moving education about the media into at least the 20th (if not the 21st) century, and teaching students about and with the media they know and use every day.

Clearly, educators have identified media literacy as a vitally important issue–not only in the United States but across the globe. As new mediums have developed it will be important for media literacy education to continue to evolve and grow–much like it has through the three phases discussed in this blog.


Guo-Ming, C. (2007). Media (Literacy) Education in the United States. China Media Research, 3(3), 87-103. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete database.

Walsh, B. (n.d.)  A Brief History of Media Education. Retrieved October 24, 2010, from

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