Model Assignments, Teaching Practices

Examining Media:
Representation &

Literacy: connecting media theory and theological reflection

This exercise by Mary Hess adapts an activity by Media Literacy Educator Renee Hobbs intended to help students critically examine media representation of religion and people of faith.


In my own teaching, the layer of “content” meaning I’ve tried to include in this exercise clusters around representations of religion and religious persons. All of the clips I use carry some element of religious representation in them, and that allows me to invite students to reflect on the “religious education” people receive within media culture before they ever walk in the door of a church or other faith community.

In this exercise, the choice of clips you use is important. I generally use seven clips, and draw them from a variety of genres. I use something from a soap opera, from a news magazine, from a PBS documentary, from a children’s show, from a cartoon, from a prime time drama, and then I usually also include a clip that is a broadcast of a religious service.

Each clip is no longer than 3 minutes long, and has to have some internal consistency to it. That is, the clip I use from a drama is an entire scene, the exchange from a news magazine is at least one question asked and answered, and so on.

This resource was originally published on under a CC BY-NC 3.0 US license and is therefore shared here under the same license (overriding the Toolkit’s blanket CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license).

Here’s one possible playlist of clips for the exercise. If you try this activity in your classroom, send us yours!

Background image: “TV” by Pavlofox via Pixabay (CC0)