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Communal clarity: Making Sense of Media

Katie Randall's picture

Communal Clarity

Making Sense of Media


About Communal Clarity:

     We are bombarded with hundreds of media images each day. This overload of information is something universally experienced in industrialized countries, and it can be paralyzing. How many of us are taught to evaluate these messages? And once we make our evaluations, what then?

     According to the Center for Media Literacy, media literacy is “the ability to communicate competently in all media forms as well as to access, understand, analyze, evaluate and participate with powerful images, words and sounds that make up our contemporary mass media culture” (read more at Different organizations are working hard to promote media literacy education in schools, and the mission to teach as many individuals as possible these tools of analysis is a vital one.

     But this website is founded on the premise that media literacy is not an individual matter. Individuals can and should learn to analyze media messages for themselves, but this is not an end in itself. Because media messages are received in a different way by everyone, they can't be fully understood alone. While media literacy may be a skill set, media analysis is always a conversation.

     I want to create an online space for these conversations, and Communal Clarity is the result.



     Communal Clarity is a community of people willing to work together to better understand the media that surround us, a space for this work to happen, and an evolving record of the conversations we have. Browse our archives here.

     As a community, this website is based around John A. Humbach's idea of right relationships. According to his essay “Towards a Natural Justice of Right Relationships,” 

       Right relationships are human relations in which each (or all) seek, without abandoning themselves, to be attentive and responsive to the needs and emotions of one another, quite apart from considerations of entitlement. There are also several important 'negative' markers of right relationships, namely that they must be free of systematic oppression, exploitation or manipulation (2).

(read the full essay: )

      Our ideal is to create this type of relationship among all the members of this site. This is why no one can post on Communal Clarity without creating a profile, and everyone is encouraged to share as much or as little of themselves as they want in their profile and comments. It's also why personal attacks in comments are not tolerated.



Comment Guidelines

  1. No personal attacks on other members or on individuals appearing in posted media images.
  • This doesn't mean you can't criticize ideas, policies, organizations etc. But it does mean that you can't single out a part of that person's identity and use it against them.
  1. No cursing.

 A single curse in a comment thread means that the entire thread can't be accessed from many school computers. You would be shutting thousands of people out of the conversation.

  1. Stay on topic as much as possible.
  • You are encouraged to link specific media messages to everything else, from your personal history to global issues. But in the end, this site exists to engage with specific images and words.
  1. Read previous comments before adding your own.
  • How else can we have a conversation?
  1. No advertising commercial services.


Comments that don't follow these guidelines will not make it through moderation. When possible I will remove the section breaking the guidelines (for example, a curseword or commercial link), note in red where the edit was made, and post the rest.



Getting Started:

Create a profile here

Latest comment threads here

Browse categories: 



            >The Americas




Pop culture     

            >TV shows


            >Music videos

            >Internet only


            >and consumerism

            >and gender

            >and race

            >and politics



Most popular posts of all time here


Want to join the conversation, but not sure what to say? The Center for Media Literacy ( has a wonderful list of concepts and questions which can be applied to any media message:


Media Literacy Resources:

Some background knowledge-

     The Center for Media Literacy

    International Media Literacy Research Forum

An example of a website analyzing media messages-


An example of media literacy applied to advocacy:



Call For Submissions:

     Communal Clarity wouldn't exist without all of you. These are your ideas and your conversations-- so what do you want to talk about? Send clips and images to In the subject line include Submission from (your username) and a few words categorizing the clip or image. Don't worry if it doesn't fit into one of our usual topics—that’s what the “other” category is for.


Theme of the Month:

     December in the United States is ChristmaHannuKwansaSoltice month-- and you know what that means. Advertising everywhere you look. Feel free to submit the ones that interest you, with or without commentary. Or send in a written opinion piece on advertising and the holidays (must be less than 800 words).



Username: K Randall

Age: 21

From: NYC


I'm an undergraduate student and anthropology major at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

I started Communal Clarity my senior year as part of a project for this course: /exchange/courses/pppp/f11

.Our specific prompt was “explore the possibility of building some sort of "right relationship" w/ reference to a concrete contemporary problem that interests you (this could be a
new relationship between theory and action, or what Butler calls a "queer alliance" among unaffliated identity groups, or....?)”
 It got me thinking about the overload of media images and how they can completely paralyze action.


View posts that K Randall has started here

View comments that K Randall has written here


Anne Dalke's picture

waves and particles

I like what you have outlined so far, and am very much looking forward to meeting w/ you and talking about next steps (there will be next steps, yes? you are going to actualize this project, yes?). What is most heartening to me about what you've proposed, so far, is its social quality. To me, this builds on all Judith Butler taught us about ourselves as social creatures, all Karen Barad taught us about being "waves as well as particles," entangled in the world we are studying; it's much more about right relationships than about individual rights, as you make clear, and the attention you are paying to the ways in which we connect w/ one another are very hopeful to me. I'm anxious to see where this goes .... and am already mulling over my own posting on the month of ChristmaHannuKwansaSoltice, when I will be hosting a family event that brings together Jews, Hindus and both Euro- and Palestinean Christians .... what sort of image would work to represent our coming together?