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MEDIA 101: The National Media Education Conference

By Thelma Vickroy

The National Media Education Conference (NMEC) is an annual project of the Partnership for Media Education (PME), a collaboration of private and public sector organizations. Formed in 1997, PME founders saw the need for an annual conference so that educators could learn the principles of media education.

The 1999 NMEC conference took place June 27 through June 30, 1999, in St Paul, Minnesota. Media education experts, educators, youth leaders, prevention specialist and young adults attended the conference. Turner Broadcasting System, Channel One Network, The New York Times, Discovery Communications and eight Public Television Stations represented program and media providers.

In addressing the need for media literacy education, more than 100 speakers and workshops were presented. As a filmmaker, educator and parent: one of the most interesting workshops I attended was "Creating a Framework for Successful Media Education: Goals Models and Teaching Strategies," presented by Barry Duncan and Rose Pacatte. Barry Duncan is the co-author of "Mass Media and Popular Culture." Rose Pacatte is a catholic nun who is the director of Pauline Center for Media Studies in Boston, Massachusetts.

Highlights included a presentation by Sister Rose that featured a South Park episode on euthanasia, followed by a videotape of interviews she had conducted with 10 and 11-year-old students from two Boston-area parochial elementary schools. When Sister Rose questioned them about the television show, South Park. the students responded, "My parents don't know that I watch South Park , but I sneak and watch it," or, "I don't have cable but my friend tapes it for me and I get to watch it." She also learned that boys liked South Park while girls were more interested in Dawson Creek. The students also revealed an astute understanding of the underlying themes of the show that went beyond the obvious bathroom humor. The next step for Sister Rose is an upcoming videotape session with parents concerning their kids and South Park.

"KQED Media Education Project" was presented by KQED, a San Francisco-based public television station. KQED created their Youth Media Corp to bring together a diverse group of young people from across the Bay Area to learn and work with popular media. A collaboration between media professionals and youth enrolled in the program resulted in a multi-media campaign designed to break the limiting stereotypes and negative portrayals of young people.

Utilizing a multimedia approach that included the Internet, radio and television, the teams produced spots designed to provide a realistic portrayal of young people and their contributions to the community. The KQED Youth Media Corp web site is

Although the 1999 NMEC conference was produced primarily for media literacy experts and educators, media producers also discovered how media is being utilized by teachers in their classrooms. The 2000 NMEC conference is scheduled for May 13 - 17, 2000 in Toronto, Canada. The conference theme is Summit 2000 Children, Youth and the Media Beyond The Millennium.

For more information, contact Summit 2000 at 416.515.0466; or e-mail: