Learning the news: Back to school

Media literacy is one of the most important topics of our day and this fall, I head to graduate school at Gonzaga University to learn more about it, writes Roger Plothow.

Today is the first day of class for the fall semester at Gonzaga University, and I’ll be one of the eager students excited to start a new adventure.

At 59, I’m not exactly the typical graduate student, particularly since I’ll be attending most of my classes online instead of at the school’s beautiful Spokane campus. I’ll be working toward a master’s degree in Gonzaga’s unique Communication and Leadership Studies program. Leave it to the Jesuits to combine those topics into a graduate degree.

I mention this because I’m taking you, dear reader, back to school with me. We’re going to learn together, and you may even be asked to participate in a homework project or two. Stay tuned on that.

Why would an old guy like me go to grad school? One reason comes from my wife, Kathleen, who thinks it’s a great idea for me to have something to do as winter approaches and I start itching for distractions to keep my mind active during my least favorite time of the year. Mostly, though, I want to learn and I like school.

I figure if I’m going to put myself out there as any sort of authority on media literacy, continuing education had better be part of the plan, and Gonzaga is the perfect place to pursue it. The curriculum is diverse and relevant to the topic of media literacy, with courses on ethics, organizational communication and – what’s this? – media literacy! I’m thinking that my thesis topic may revolve around media literacy as well.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to extend my promised 52 consecutive weeks of expounding on media literacy by another two years. But I do intend to pop back from to time to share some of what I’ll be learning at Gonzaga once my one-year commitment to you is over (and perhaps to brag about the basketball team).

Part of the reason I mention this is to support my ongoing theme that media literacy is one of the most important topics of our day, in my view. Regardless of what you do for a living, or if you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad or a student, being media literate is as important as being skilled in using the English language. By going back to school myself, I hope I’m walking my talk.

I’ve referred to the Center for Media Literacy before, but here’s another reminder of its reasons for becoming better media consumers: “It provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate and create messages in a variety of forms - from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy.”

So, come along with me – virtually – to Spokane to learn the latest on the communications and media issues of the day. And … go Zags!

Roger Plothow is editor and publisher of the Post Register. This is part of a year-long weekly series on media literacy.