CoverIntroductionKey Civics and Government ConceptsDefining Critical Media LiteracyCritical Media Literacy GuidesTopic 1. Foundations of the United States Political System1.1 Social Media Policies and Community Standards on YouTube, Twitter, TikTok and More1.2 The Internet as a Public Utility1.3  21st Century Women STEM Innovators1.4 Media Coverage of Kings, Queens, and Royal Families1.5 Representations of Native Americans in Films, Local History Publications, and School MascotsTopic 2. The Development of United States Government2.1 Declarations of Independence on Social Media2.2 Media Marketing and Government Regulation of Self-Driving Cars and Electric Vehicles2.3 Representations of and Racism Toward Black Americans in the Media2.4 Political Debates Through Songs from Hamilton: An American Musical2.5 Bill of Rights on TwitterTopic 3. Institutions of United States Government3.1: Hollywood Movies About the Branches of Government3.2: Writing an Impeachment Press Release3.3: Members of Congress' Use of Social Media3.4: Political Impacts of Public Opinion Polls3.5: Website Design for New Political PartiesTopic 4. The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens4.1: Immigration in the News4.2: Portrayals of Immigrants in Television and Film4.3: COVID-19 Information Evaluation4.4: Women Political Leaders in the Media4.5: Online Messaging by Special Interest Groups4.6: Digital Games for Civic Engagement4.7: Social Media and the Elections4.8: Images of Political Leaders and Political Power4.9: Media Spin in the Coverage of Political Debates4.10: Celebrities' Influence on Politics4.11: Political Activism Through Social Media4.12: Media Recruitment of Public Sector Workers4.13 Deciding What Books Students Read in School4.14: Images of Teachers and Teaching4.15: For Whom Is and Could Your School Be Named4.16: Representing Trans Identities4.17: Media Framing of the Events of January 6, 20214.18: Music as Protest Art4.19: PACs, Super PACs, and Unions in the Media4.20 Brands and PoliticsTopic 5. The Constitution, Amendments, and Supreme Court Decisions5.1: Prohibition in the Media5.2: The Equal Rights Amendment on Twitter and Other Social Media5.3: Civil War Era News Stories and Recruitment Advertisements5.4: Representations of Gender and Race on U.S. Currency5.5: The Equality Act on Twitter5.6: Reading Supreme Court Dissents Aloud5.7: Television Cameras in CourtroomsTopic 6. The Structure of State and Local Government6.1: Native American Mascots and Logos6.2: A Constitution for the Internet6.3: Military Recruitment and the Media6.4: Your Privacy on Social Media6.5: Pandemic Policy Information in the Media6.6: Gendered Language in Media Coverage of Women in Politics6.7: Gender-Neutral Marketing of Toys 6.8: Environmental Campaigns Using Social Media6.9: Trusted Messengers, the Media, and the Pandemic6.10: Online Campaigning for Political Office6.11: Advertising the Lottery Online and In Print6.12: Local Governments, Social Media and Digital Democracy6.13: Protecting the CommonsTopic 7. Freedom of the Press and News/Media Literacy7.1: Press Freedom in the United States and the World7.2: Objectivity and Reporting the News from All Sides7.3: Investigative Journalism and Social Change7.4: News Photographs & Newspaper Design7.5: How Reporters Report Events7.6: Recommendation Algorithms on Social Media Platforms7.7: YouTube Content Creators7.8: Fake News Investigation and Evaluation7.9: Paywalls and Access to Online News7.10: Critical Visual Analysis of Online and Print Media7.11: Memes and TikToks as Political Cartoons7.12: Women Reporters in the Movies7.13: Design a 21st Century Indie Bookstore 7.14: Greenwashing and the Media7.15: AI Writing Tools and Political Information


Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning

Welcome to Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning - an interactive, multimodal, multicultural, open access eBook for teaching and learning key topics in United States Government and Civic Life. Open access means these materials are online, digital, and free of charge (Billings, 2019). This book is available online to anyone with an internet connection. The eBook can also be viewed and printed as a PDF file for offline viewing.

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Developed as a companion edition to our Building Democracy for All eBook (2020), Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning (2021) features more than 100 interactive media literacy learning activities for students organized around key topics in civics, government, and history education derived from the Massachusetts 8th Grade Civics and Government curriculum framework.

Senior Contributing Authors

Robert W. MaloySenior Lecturer, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Torrey Trust, Associate Professor of Learning Technology, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chenyang Xu, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Allison Butler, Senior Lecturer & Director of Undergraduate Advising, Director of Media Literacy Certificate Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Media Literacy Project Team

Ifat Gazia, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

J.D. SwerzenskiGraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Yuxi (Cecilia) Zhou, Graduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst 

Natalie Passov, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Eleanor Sprick, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Benjamin Mendillo, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kyle Balis, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Kendra Sleeper, Undergraduate Student, University of Massachusetts Amherst

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Interdisciplinary Faculty Research Award for this project.


The team was awarded the 2023 MERLOT Award
Bob Maloy, Torrey Trust, Allison Butler, and Chenyang Xu were awarded the 2023 MERLOT Classics Award
2021 Winner Learning Technologies Team - eLearning Consortium of Colorado
Bob Maloy, Torrey Trust, Allison Butler, and Chenyang Xu were honored for their collaborative work on this eBook project with the 2021 Learning Technologies Team Award.


CC BY-NC-SA: This work is released under a CC BY-NC-SA license, which means that you are free to do with it as you please as long as you (1) properly attribute it, (2) do not use it for commercial gain, and (3) share any subsequent works under the same or a similar license.