On PBS (Check local listings)

A half hour special from In the Mix, the award winning PBS series

The average high school senior will have watched more than 15,000 hours of television by the time he/she graduates. Teens today spend more time watching television than on any other activity, including studying. Too often teenagers accept what they see and hear in the media as truth. Now more than ever, they need to understand who controls the media and how media messages are put together. This half-hour In the Mix special takes a close-up look at the medium of television to teach teens how to evaluate and understand what they are watching.

How to Use this Program:

Research by RMC Research on earlier In the Mix specials has shown that these programs engage the interest of teenagers; deliver important information in compelling, age-appropriate ways; catalyze discussion on important issues; promote critical thinking, problem-solving, positive personal and interpersonal actions and a greater sense of self-efficacy among teens. While each section in this special will generate compelling discussion about specific topics, we recommend that you show the entire special in one sitting and then revisit each section followed by discussion. The aim is to encourage thought and allow teens to generate their own creative solutions.

In the Mix Awards

1997 New York Emmy for Children's Programming

1996 Finalist, The New York Festivals

1994 National Emmy for Community Service Programming

1993 Finalist, Prix Jeunesse

1992 CPB Gold Award

The "Media Literacy: TV - What You Don't See!" Discussion Guide is divided into the following sections:

Music Videos

Editing Techniques I and II

Rise And Shine

Peter Jennings


Selected Media Literacy Resources

For information about In the Mix, e-mail us at

Media Literacy: TV - What You Don't See! carries one-year off-air taping rights and performance rights. Check your local PBS listings for airtimes.

Videotape copies of the program can be purchased for $69.95 (Plus $5.00 shipping and handling per order; includes performance rights and a Discussion Guide), and can be ordered by sending a check or purchase order to: In the Mix, 114 E. 32 Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016. There is a discount of $5.00 per tape on orders of any five or more In the Mix titles.

Other videos of interest to grades 7-12 are available on topics including: Drug Abuse; Teen Immigrants; Gun Violence; Depression and Suicide; Computer Literacy and Careers; Self-Image and the Media; Sports Participation; Activism; Alcohol and DWI; Dating Violence; Getting Into College; School to Work Transition; Careers; Relationships; AIDS; and others. For a complete catalog, call: (212) 684-3940 or (800) 597-9448, or write to us at: 114 E. 32 Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016, or visit our complete episode descriptions.

c 1997 In the Mix. Media Literacy: TV - What You Don't See! is a production of Castle Works Inc. in association with WNET/Channel Thirteen. In The Mix was created by WNYC Radio. This special was funded by The Annenberg Public Policy Center of The University of Pennsylvania.


Segment Length: 4:22

Teens take a close-up look at the images and messages portrayed in hip hop music videos. We hear from a record company executive and popular artists, M.C. Lyte and The Roots, about how the images of barely dressed women, fancy cars and unlimited alcohol are used in music videos to sell albums. The Roots discuss why they produced their popular video "What They Do," which deconstructs these images using humorous sub-titles.

This segment is about personal opinion; probe for teens' views on the presence of these images.

What kinds of images do you see over and over again in hip hop music videos?

Girls in bikinis, alcohol, fancy cars, guns.

What is the relationship between men and women in these videos?

Women are possessions, objects.

Why do artists and record companies use these images in music videos?

These images sell albums.

How are the images of violence glorified in music videos?

What types of images were made fun of in the Roots video?

Cars, models, mansions, champagne.

Discuss why The Roots used specific sub-titles i.e. "The Goldstein Estate" for the mansion, etc.

Do these images affect the attitude and behavior of viewers?

Attitudes towards girls, violence, the need for expensive possessions.

If you are upset about the images in music videos what can you do?

Don't purchase the albums, write letters to the record label, call radio stations and complain.


Take a look at music videos of all genres and compare the images; i.e.: how do heavy metal videos differ from country music videos, etc.


Segment I Length: 4:13

Segment II Length: 1:46

This section of the show breaks down some of the techniques used in television editing. In the Mix reporters, Andrea Barrow and Eddie Vichaidith, learn from a television editor about cutting interviews, montages and the use of music.

What does it mean to take something out of context? For example, we used a shortened soundbite from The Roots segment to show how Chuck Stone III could be made to convey a completely different meaning... that he actually approved of these images in videos. When is this likely to happen?

News, tabloid shows, promos

Why are interviews most often edited?

To shorten interviews, to clean up what someone says, to make desired points more clearly

What does a producer do?

Decides what to shoot, what questions to ask in an interview, and decides what parts of interviews will make it on the air

How can you tell if something has been edited?

If there is a change in the picture in any way, it usually means something has been edited; i.e. cutaways, listening shots, B-roll, camera angle such as wide vs. close-up

What is B-roll?

B-roll is any video other than the interview you are seeing. It is usually used to cover a cut. For instance, the footage from "Party of Five" of Bailey and Sara is B-roll and was used to cover a cut in Scott's interview. It can also be used to add visual interest and to stress or clarify points

What is a montage?

A series of images used together to create a mood in a compressed time period

What mood was the Rangers montage trying to set?

Violent, rough and dangerous

What techniques were used to create the Rangers montage?

Slow motion, strobing, zooming and music

What happens to the Rangers segment when the music is changed?


Turn the sound off on different kinds of TV programs. How does that affect the message and the mood?


Watch a news magazine show and try to identify the B-roll and cutaway shots.


Segment Length: 3:47

A 17 year old student was shot in front of an alternative high school in Queens. The students were upset not only about the incident, but also about the way the media portrayed them and their school. So they set up a workshop with some teens who were studying the media.

Why were the students upset about the media coverage of the shooting incident?

They believed that the media assumed drugs were involved, the students were referred to as drop-outs, etc.

What are some of the ways young people are portrayed in the media? Why do they feel they are stereotyped negatively?

Probe for varied responses

Name some of the other places where teens are stereotyped?

Ads, movies, magazines, etc.

Does the news make it seem as if teens contribute to the majority of today's violence? What age group commits the most murders?

Three-fourth's of all murders committed by adults against adults, only 13% of murders are committed by young adults. How do the images of teens in the news affect you?

How you are portrayed in the media can affect the way adults and others view and judge you

ACTIVITIES 1 - 5: Ways To Amplify Your Voice Through Free Press and Promote Positive Stories About Teens

1. Write and send a letter to the editor of a newspaper outlining your thoughts and suggest solutions.

2. Submit an article to the editor of a local or national magazine that accepts freelance work. If possible, send your own photos to illustrate it.

3. Write a press release and send it to the news assignment desks of local and national television, newspaper and radio outlets.

4. Organize a community forum on an issue you care about. Put yourself on the panel of speakers and personally invite members of the local press.

5. Conduct original research that supports your opinions and release your findings and recommendations in a press conference.


Segment Length 4:50

In the Mix reporter Andrea Barrow interviews ABC's veteran news man, Peter Jennings. In this segment Mr. Jennings advises teens: "Ask yourself right through that lens...what is the person who is putting that on television trying to say to me?...analyze everything that you see and be pretty skeptical ...Then you have to understand that everybody in life has some bias. They've got racial bias, economic bias, where they live, how they grew up... And if you understand that everybody who is putting together the news programs on television brings to it some of those biases and impressions, then you'll understand a little more... you'll look at life through their lens."

How is there bias in the news?

Racial, economic, geographical, etc. Everyone who covers the news brings with them their own world view

Who decides what the news is for the day?

Senior editors of the broadcast decide what has the most broad appeal to their audience

Why does Peter Jennings think it's important for teens to watch the news?

So you can make educated choices about government, school, jobs, elected officials, etc.

How can young people be more critical of the news?

Deconstruct a recent story with the following questions: 1. What is the purpose of what I have just seen? 2. Who is it targeted towards? 3. What is the person who is putting that on TV trying to say to me; i.e. what points made it on the air? 4. How much do you think the interview was edited to make those points?

How can the camera manipulate what you see on TV?

A wide shot is more honest, a close-up changes the mood , when shot from below people think differently about you

Why do teenagers believe that the news only does negative stories about them?

News usually covers those stories that are out of the ordinary

Are there positive stories about teens in the news?


Split class into groups - each group watches a different network's local and national news for 7 days. List all positive and negative stories about young people. At the end of the week compare the number of positive vs. negative stories.


Split class into groups - each group watches a different network's local news broadcast and writes down the top three stories of the broadcast. In class, groups compare the different coverage of the same story on networks who was interviewed, what footage was shown, what facts, statistics were included?


Visit a local television station and, if possible, interview the news director and/or reporter to learn how stories are chosen and covered.


Segment Length: 3:45

In The Mix reporter Tamah Krinsky spends the day at an advertising agency to learn about the role of advertising in television.

Who pays for commercials/TV?

The advertiser pays the television networks for the airtime to run their commercials. The money that networks make from the advertisers pays for the TV shows you watch.

How do you break down a commercial?

What strategies are they using to persuade you to buy their product? What kinds of music, mood, and people are they using in the commercial? Are they selling you a lifestyle or a product?

Do ads trivialize or generalize what it means to be a teenager?

Are advertisers misleading teens by creating fantasy worlds?


Split class into groups - each group comes up with a product and an ad campaign for that product. i.e.  Who is the target audience? How would you approach them: print, television, radio? Would you use a celebrity? How would you convince your audience to buy your product?


Collect print ads or a popular commercial geared towards teenagers - soda, shoes, clothes, perfume, makeup, music etc. Analyze what it is the advertiser is trying to appeal to and discuss among the class if the ads are working.



The KIDS FIRST! Directory - a consumer's guide of quality children's programming is available for only $5.00 from The Coalition for Quality Children's Media. To order your copy, call toll free 1-888-319-KIDS or send a check or money order to KIDS FIRST!, P.O. Box 480255, Kansas City, MO 64148.

KIDSNET recommends quality children's television programs to families in monthly reports. Contact KIDSNET at 202-291-1400 or for more information.


The Creating Critical Viewers Program - National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

111 West 57th Street, Suite 1020

New York, New York 10019

For more information, contact Renee Cherow - O'Leary, Ph.D. at 212-586-8424, ext. 236.

Center for Media Literacy

4727 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 403

Los Angeles, CA. 90010

An extensive catalogue of media literacy resources can be requested by calling 1-800-226-9494

Citizens for Media Literacy

34 Wall Street, Suite 407

Asheville, NC 28801

(704) 255-0182

National Alliance for Media Education (NAME)

c/o the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture

655 13th Street, Suite 20

Oakland, CA. 94612

(510) 451-2717

The American Center for Children's Television

1400 East Touhy, Suite 260

Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-3305

The Center offers consulting assistance and referral to experts on specific topics, for program makers, researchers, educators, journalists, children's advocates and parents. Contact David W. Kleeman at 1-847-390-6499 or for further information.

Media Education Foundation

26 Center Street

Northampton, MA 01060

(413) 584-8500

On the World Wide Web:

Center for Media Literacy

TV Planet/Rocky Mountain PBS

Media Literacy Online Project

Centre for Media Education

New Mexico Media Literacy Project

Media Awareness Network

National Institute on Media and the Family