The Challenges of Teaching Girls (Re)Presentation of Self and Others through Media Studies and Citizen Journalism
Most likely, Alyssa’s students have never heard of Liebling or his work as a New Yorker reporter between the 1930s and 1960s, but the quote sets a mood for her unit on citizen journalism that any feminist scholar would appreciate. It echoes the disparities of power that keep the voiceless silent and tells of the need for enterprising citizens to overcome such limits. In an era when technological tools continue to be used to tip the scales of power, Liebling’s message is a rallying call to teach the marginalized among us to seize these tools to express the freedom in question. Wisely, Alyssa recognizes that her high school class, made up mostly of girls of lower social-economic status and of varying races and ethnicities, is a proper place to begin unpacking Liebling’s critical message. By connecting the ways in which girls are represented by media with the
ways they make sense of and produce media, I seek to present a framework that empowers them to use the tools of media practitioners for selfrepresentation. Research conducted in two high school media studies classrooms opens up questions of how critical examination of race, gender, class, ethnicity, and other factors combined with the tools of interactive media informs attitudes about mass media and empowers students to create their own media messages. Let us ﬁrst, however, consider some common perceptions about girls and media as we imagine how teachers might alert girls to ways media can work for or against them.