Our History

Looking back is not just about nostalgia. It is a search for meaningful roots. In order for media literacy to grow as an academic discipline, it must have a solid pedagogical foundation. The purpose of looking back should always be with a focus on reexamining where the field needs to go. Our organization has embraced change time and again. We have never felt the need to stay the course... remaining static is not a part of our policy. Remaining true to our basic philosophy is. We know change is always on the horizon because that is the nature of our field. To remain relevant, we must not be afraid of change, in fact we must seek it out. Yet, in so doing, we must not forget the foundation we stand on.  


KIDS-4 members presenting and broadcasting our national conference in 1981.

The archives of NTC reach back to the days of Edward R. Murrow and Eric Sevareid, when the world was engulfed in World War II. These memorable journalists were highlighted in monthly listings of “Some Good Listening,” published by what was then known as the Wisconsin Joint Committee for Better Radio Listening. In 1951, television was added and in 1953, the newly born “American Council for Better Broadcasts” set out to coordinate and provide leadership, inspired by the idea of a “Better World through Better Broadcasts,” to work “Toward a Media Wise Society.” What had begun in 1935 as a small study group of the Madison, Wisconsin chapter of the American Association of University Women, became the “American Council for Better Broadcasts” on June 24th, 1953. To keep up with the evolution of technology, ACBB changed its name to the "National Telemedia Council" in 1983. In 2021, we evolved into the "International Council for Media Literacy. 

Since 1953, our organization has accumulated a large collection of projects, conferences, publications, awards, and innovative ideas through the generous efforts of a diverse collaboration of individuals and organizations across the globe.


IC4ML is engaged in the on-going project of documenting and making available all of these historic resources. 

Learn more about our past conferences, which helped build state and national partnerships throughout the years.

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Early Partners

Our organization has always called itself a "council" because we believe in the collaboration of diverse individuals and groups and see them as a circle of friends, coming from different directions, but working toward a common goal. Among the pioneers were teachers, parents, civic and religious groups, academics, policy-makers, legislators, arts and media professionals from across the nation. Today, our circle reaches around the globe. The work of our organization belongs to its contributors and we share it with everyone. IC4ML's work is a collection of visionaries. We want to highlight the contributions of people in our early decades who influenced us.

Dr. Edgar Dale

Professor at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio

He articulated ways to do qualitative evaluation that were translated into what became our Look-Listen Project. He defined critical listening and thinking skills:

"We must bring our intelligence to bear upon the kinds of choices we are making, be critical-minded, not sponge-minded.... We have found that to the primary enjoyment of a film or television program, thoughtful viewing adds a secondary enjoyment, an enjoyment in depth." -1956


Abbott Washburn

FCC Commissioner from 1974 to 1982

Commissioner Washburn provided key initiatives within the commission in encouraging the teaching of critical television viewing skills through an FCC inquiry into children's television programming. 

"If we can make young Americans media wise, we will be helping them enormously to cope with the future... Achieving that goal will require the cooperation of parents, children, teachers, and broadcasters... As a society we are beginning to learn how to make the most of television... TV literacy is the road to TV excellence.  The solution is long-range. It will take years to develop a literate, critical, demanding audience. But the process, happily, has begun." -1979