Chapter 9

Media Literacy

Theoretical Introduction – Theory Behind the Scenarios

This chapter aims to support youth workers like you to enhance young people’s media literacy competence, focusing both on general and specific media literacy skills. The proposed workshop scenarios will help young people to:

  • Understand how and why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes;
  • Understand how to use the most appropriate media creation tools;
  • Learn about design thinking process and how to use it in developing messages with purpose;
  • Be able to adapt the how and why of messages to specific audiences and specific purposes;
  • Learn about interviewing and developing stories for different social media channels;
  • Learn about interactive storytelling and interactive videos that could be used to develop messages and find the most appropriate expressions in diverse, multicultural environments.

We selected these learning objectives using the P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning (Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2002), which includes the following media literacy competence areas:

  • Analyze Media
    • Understand both how and why media messages are constructed, and for what purposes;
    • Examine how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded, and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors;
    • Apply a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of media.
  • Create Media Products
    • Understand and utilize the most appropriate media creation tools, characteristics and conventions;
    • Understand and effectively utilize the most appropriate expressions and interpretations in diverse, multi-cultural environments.

Through the workshop scenarios we cover both the analyzing and the creation part, focusing on the creation side, as we want to encourage more and more young people to create their own media products. And for this reason, all the scenarios look to young people as media creators, helping them to better understand their audience when constructing messages; to improve their skills on collecting information and then producing stories for different social media channels; and to improve the interaction with the audience of their media products, by learning new methods of interactive storytelling.

The following short sections will support you in delivering the workshops included in this chapter, offering you the basic theory you would need on design thinking, interviewing people and on interactive storytelling and interactive videos.

Basics on design thinking

We will not repeat ourselves, here we only remind you that you can read about design thinking – the whole process, or very specific on the first step of the process (empathize) in the chapter on Creativity and Innovation and in the one on Communication. Go back to those chapters and read more carefully the information about the following steps: empathize, define and ideate. These are the steps that you will make young people to follow in the first scenario of this chapter, helping them to better resonate with their audience. The design thinking process will help young people to better understand their audience’s needs and perspectives. At the same time, the process will show young people how to adapt the messages they want to construct and send out to specific audiences and to specific purposes.

Basics on interviewing people

The second scenario proposed in this chapter is focused mainly on supporting young people to use appropriate media creation tools. And they will learn about Canva, Adobe Spark and also they will practice taking photos with their smartphones. Before the workshop, go on these platforms and try them out for the purposes of the scenarios, and make a plan on how you will demonstrate to the young people to use these two tools. However, before developing the stories, and use these cool tools, young people need to learn how to collect the stories. Here are some advice you can give to young people to improve their interviewing skills, based on our experience and on the experience of Brandon Stanton (the initiator of Humans of New York project) who has interviewed thousands of strangers so far.

Approach people with a smile and positive energy

If you are nervous about approaching people and stressed about it, they will feel it and they will run from you. Get your smile and positive energy and approach people in a relaxed way. Keep your arms open, smile with your eyes, face and tone of your voice, and always approach them from the front. Never call them from behind, because you will scare them. They need to see you first, they need to feel your energy before saying hi. The best people to approach are those that are sitting, waiting for something or someone, or just enjoying a break.

Go step by step

First, introduce yourself like a photographer, storyteller, etc. and shortly your project. Then, ask simply if you could take their photo. Only after you take the photo, you could go further and ask them if they would also like to share something about themselves, for a photo-story, for instance. Do not jump on people with too many requests – like you need more photos and some questions to ask. Make them feel comfortable, step by step. Start with a full portrait photo, and only after they become more comfortable around you, get closer shots. Also, even if you would need them for five minutes, if you stop people with a list of requests they might think it is something that will take too much of their time. 

Ask open-ended questions and start with broad questions

Avoid questions that starts with “do/did” – because these will always end with a “no” or “yes” answer. Use open-ended questions that will allow for more complex answers, so ask “what”/“why”/“how”/ “when”/ “where”, etc. Also, Brandon Stanton advises to start with broad questions, such as “What piece of advice you want to give to people?”. And then they could answer: “Stay always positive”. And then, you could ask them: “When was the last time it was hard for you to stay positive?”. And then the discussion could continue with more and more personal stories.

Go to the “heart”

Ask people about feelings, because there are the most important stories in life. The most important moment of our life left for sure, behind, strong emotions and feelings people will remember. So, use broad questions to start, but about feelings, such as: “When did you feel the happiest person in the world?”, “What was the moment when you feel very lonely?”, “What was your biggest fear?”, “What was your saddest moment in life?”, “When was the last time you felt appreciated?”, etc. 

Be genuine and there, in the moment

Show authentic and genuine emotions during the interview, and empathize with the person. Let the person to express his/her values, feelings, emotions, without judging them while listening. Be really curious and do not assume answers, but better ask more questions to make sure you fully understand. Also, do not interrupt the person, and go question by question. Listen to the answers, and do not focus on the next questions.

If you want to learn more about interviewing, or just to let you charmed by the journalist Brandon Stanton, we recommend you to read the following articles and watch the videos we found for you:

  • Ask better interview questions: 3 lessons from Humans of New York:;
  • Tips and Tricks for Interviewing Storytellers:;
  • Brandon Stanton on the Art of an Effective Interview:;
  • On how I approach strangers in the street – Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton:

Basics on interactive storytelling and interactive videos

Storytelling is both a cultural and social activity of sharing stories, narratives in different forms. Each story has at least one character and at least one challenge – a moral or psychological one. Then each story involves emotions that are “sent” to the audience, in order to move their hearts and maybe take action for themselves or for others. Storytelling is most probably the most engaging way of communicating with an audience, when creating messages for different purposes. For that we chose to familiarize young people with storytelling, and more precisely with interactive storytelling.

If in classical or linear storytelling, the audience (also called the users) have no control over the story, except the way in which they react emotionally to it, in the interactive storytelling, the users become part of the “architecture” of the story. If in a regular story, we have the author and the characters, in the interactive story we have: the author, the user and the characters. The author will create the settings, the characters, and the situation, while the users will decide the storyline, based on his/her interaction with the story world. Let’s take the example of Little Red Riding Hood story. In the linear story, the little girl says goodbye to her mom, walks to the grandma, and takes the forbidden path to the woods, meets the wolf, shares where she is going, the wolf eats grandma, while the girl walks to the woods, then girl meets fake grandma (the wolf), she is eaten by wolf, but then hunter saves both her and grandma, in the end, from the wolf belly, and the wolf dies. The interactive story will set up the scenes, the characters, but not a linear story. It will create only this decisional moments (called “the nodes”) in the story, where the user will have to make choices, and based on these choices the storyline develops until the next “node”, when the user has to decide again what the character/characters should do. For instance, when the Little Red Riding Hood steps into the forest, the user could decide which path she would take, and based on this decision the storyline goes further. Let’s say the user decides “use the path the mom told to use”: you will think that the little girl will get safely to grandma, and the story ends. But then Little Red Riding Hood has her own personality in the story, and on this “safe” path, she could still disobey mom. For the sake of this example, let’s say she decides to open the basket with food and start eating. Then, the smell of the food attracts the wolf on her path. Now, the user has to decide again if the little girl should talk or not with wolf, and then the storyline goes further, and next ‘node’ comes in. 

Interactive storytelling also implies the use of technology which allows the user to interact with the story. The workshop we propose teaches young people how to develop interactive stories, and also how to use a specific platform to develop interactive videos. While preparing for delivering this workshop, we recommend you first to read more about interactive storytelling and interactive videos, for example, using these articles:

  • What is interactive storytelling?,
  • What is interactive video?,

Then, train yourself in using the platform, which allows for the development of interactive videos. Here is the platform and tutorials to use:

  • platform;
  • Getting started on creating a basic interactive video: