MPI 101: A Introduction to Media and the Public Interest


This article was originally published in OPENWIDE back in 2015, and was written by Ramon Sanchez

Going into FIMS, many of you will be exposed to a more critical perspective on the effects of the media and technology on society, which includes both the positives and negatives.  Since most students going into FIMS initially have a deep interests in the media and may even want to work in the media industry, many of you may find it difficult to critique the thing that brought you to university in the first place.  While the lessons you will learn at your time in FIMS may be difficult and sometimes uncomfortable to digest, it is necessary to engage in these uncomfortable discussions in order to deconstruct the power of the media.  Although it may first appear that your FIMS classes only focus on the negative impact of the media, it is because the media has a major impact on society that we need to understand and deconstruct its influence.

 

The Media and the Public Interest (MPI) stream looks at how technology and the media can be used to empower society for the interests of the people/public.  Instead of the media being seen as an exclusive platform for political and/or corporate interests, MPI refocuses on how media and technology can be used to address social injustices and mobilize social movements.  Whilst the MIT and MPI streams both aim to be critical of the media, MPI also explores how to repurpose the media and technology to have a positive impact on society.

 

The MPI stream is rooted in the combined practice of critical pedagogy and experiential learning.  Critical pedagogy is the idea that education and knowledge should be used as force for societal change.  Experiential learning challenges students to actively and physically engage with the information they learned from class and apply them to ‘the real world’. Instead of simply just discussing and understanding media theories and abstract concepts, MPI is about taking the abstract and injecting them into society as a concrete force for social change.  
It is easy to examine social injustices and theorize on how the world could be a better place, but never act on these ideas in your everyday life.  It is even easier to fall into a state of fatalism and give up on changing the world.  But MPI allows students to be critical about the media and society at large, but more importantly it also provide students with the necessary skills to have a meaningful impact in the world.  Education and deconstructing power relations is the initial step to address social injustices, taking action is what causes societal change.

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