Len Masterman

From Telemedium, The newsletter of the of the National Telemedia Council, Inc.

Vol 49-50, No 2. Published Summer 2003

Len Masterman receives The Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy for 2003

Len Masterman, noted British educator, author and originator of seminal works in the field of media education, is the recipient of the 2003 Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to media literacy.


Recognized as one of the world’s leading media educators, Len’s rich career has consistently been at the forefront of this developing field. Indeed, few are those involved today in media education anywhere, who have not been affected and enriched by his works. Len is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, England, after having taught many years at the University of Nottingham. His ground-breaking works include Teaching about Television, Teaching the Media, Television Mythologies, and Media Education in Europe in the 1990’s. From 1992 to 2000, Len was Chief Examiner for the national “A” level examinations in Media Studies in the U.K. Len has also been a consultant to UNESCO, the Council of Europe and educational authorities in over ten countries. He was jointly responsible for drafting the UNESCO Declaration on Media Education.


In the 1980’s, in what he described as “a paradigm shift for media education,” Masterman offered a challenging new perspective on the scope of media education; he proposed that the media should be studied conceptually rather than in terms of their content, an idea that has had great influence and has been adopted almost universally wherever the subject is studied. Len has addressed conferences in over 30 countries and his work has been translated into more than 25 languages.

 The 2004 Jessie McCanse Award Presented at the NMEC Conference to Len Masterman 

Len Masterman, noted British educator, author and originator of seminal works in media literacy education, was honored with the 2003 Jessie McCanse Award for Individual Contribution to Media Literacy. Presented at the AMLA Opening Day Luncheon, to the applause of a packed audience, Mr. Masterman accepted the plaque with his legendary charm and humor. Expressing his pleasure in receiving the NTC award, he responded with spontaneous, inspiring remarks addressed to the Conference participants. “The American media literacy movement is a sleeping giant,” he said, “that is now coming awake with a vengeance. You have set yourselves a wonderful agenda, which could not be more important or significant. And if you succeed in getting the majority of future American citizens to see and to understand; if you can demonstrate to them that the media are not windows on the world, that they are not transparent transmitters of reality, that they are not innocent reflectors of the world out there, then you will be taking a very significant step. You will be taking your young citizens through an important process of not only media education but political education as well, because the political and ideological effectiveness of the media is very much tied up with their assumed transparency. Indeed, if the people who produce media representations can simply pass off their representations as ‘the way the world is’, then they have at their disposal the most poweful ideological mechanism that anyone has ever invented. So you have an important task: If you can get your students to understand, to talk about and discuss media representations, where they come from, that they can be argued with, that they can be disputed, that they are encoded in a particular language that is actually quite interesting to get to know, learn and decode, that they have all kinds of ideologies and interests written into them, and that they have all kinds of interesting effects and influences upon different kinds of audiences. Then, you are taking a major step forward and not only will your students and Americans in the future thank you, but a lot of people around the rest of the world will too. This is a seminal moment in America. It’s worth devoting a professional lifetime to, believe me.

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