In detail please explain the relationship between media literacy, populism, and civic action. 

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To effectively identify and discuss the relationship between the three terms, one needs to define them first. 

Media Literacy:

The Center for Media Literacy (CML) defines the term as "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms." An additional definition states that Media Literacy "...provides a framework to access, analyze, evaluate, create and participate with messages in a variety of forms — from print to video to the Internet. Media literacy builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy." 

The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) defines Media Literacy as "...the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication... Media literacy represents a necessary, inevitable, and realistic response to the complex, ever-changing electronic environment and communication cornucopia that surround us."

In its most basic form, therefore, Media Literacy refers to one's ability to understand, use, and act on all forms of communication.  

Populism:

The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary and Thesaurus provides a straightforward and direct definition of the term and defines populism as "Political ideas and activities that are intended to get the support of ordinary people and give them what they want."

The Business Dictionary provides a relatively detailed definition:

In general, ideology or political movement that mobilizes the population (often, but not always, the lower classes) against an institution or government, usually in the defense of the underdog or the wronged. Whether of left, right, or middle political persuasion, it seeks to unite the uncorrupt and the unsophisticated (the 'little man') against the corrupt dominant elites (usually the orthodox politicians) and their camp followers (usually the rich and the intellectuals). It is guided by the belief that political and social goals are best achieved by the direct actions of the masses. Although it comes into being where mainstream political institutions fail to deliver, there is no identifiable economic or social set of conditions that give rise to it, and it is not confined to any particular social class.

Populism, in general terms, refers to the appeal made to ordinary citizens by promising to give them what they want to gain their support. 

Civic Action

The Spencer Foundation says the following about civic action:

...include(s) any public action that addresses social issues or power relations—protesting, boycotting, or blogging as well as voting and lobbying legislators. 

According to Giovanni Moro, civic action "can be defined as a form of citizenship practice consisting in mainly collective initiatives aimed at implementing rights, taking care of common goods or empowering citizens. It can be addressed both to governmental or private interlocutors as well as to the general public. It implies the exercise of powers and the use of specific tools on the citizens’ side."

In our modern world, saturated by the media, it becomes apparent how a link between these three concepts can exist. We have witnessed how effectively the media has been utilized in the past decade, for example, not only to influence thinking and win support but also to encourage action and bring about real change. In practically all of these instances, appeals were made to common people: your "regular guy" and "the man in the street." These are citizens who would likely be disgruntled by a particular state of affairs because they feel that they are either neglected, discriminated against, or being treated unfairly. They would desperately desire change. 

These campaigns were successful because all those who lead them used people's relationship with and understanding of the media as devices to appeal to the general public and encourage civic action, sometimes with not too positive and, at times, even disastrous consequences. A good example is the "Leave" and "Remain" campaigns in the UK. Politicians on both sides appealed to the general public's fears, and the Leave campaign, especially, won the vote by using a populist platform. The media was used extensively to illustrate the current situation and contrast it with what was presented as a better alternative. It goes without saying that in such cases the general public is told what campaign leaders assume they want to hear—regardless of whether the information provided is accurate and true or not.

The electoral campaign in the US is another example of how the relationship between media literacy, populism, and civic action was used to win votes. The often-stated belief is that Donald Trump won the election because of social media. The public at large is constantly exposed to and bombarded by the media. The vast number of media platforms make it practically impossible to ignore the constant stream of information that they provide. The Trump campaign focused on using a populist platform and announced its agenda through the media. This hugely successful crusade exploited the fears of the public at large, and their anxiety was expressed in the form of votes in favor of Trump's candidacy.  

It should be patently clear that the public's current relationship with the media has made it easier to appeal to the common man and drive him to take action.