Renee Hobbs

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Renee Hobbs (born September 9, 1958) is an American educator, scholar and advocate for media literacy education.[1] She is a Professor in the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island, where she directs the Media Education Lab.[2] She served as Founding Director at the Harrington School from 2012 - 2014. She is co-editor with Paul Mihailidis of the Journal of Media Literacy Education.[3]

She wrote the 1998 Journal of Communication article, "The Seven Great Debates in Media Literacy Education," about whether media literacy should emphasize critical analysis of popular culture texts, examine established film classics, emphasize protectionist or empowerment perspectives, be financially supported by media companies, and be included in K-12 education or in afterschool settings? [4]


She wrote Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English (2007, Teachers College Press), the first large-scale empirical evidence of the impact of media literacy education on reading comprehension skills. Influenced by the work of John Dewey and Marshall McLuhan, her research uses a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods to examine the impact of media literacy education on student academic achievement.[5] One reviewer wrote, “For Hobbs, present-day media literacy practices must move beyond protecting youth from adverse television and Internet encounters. Instead, she values media literacy pedagogy that teaches today's students how to make informed choices about the variety of texts they have at their disposal. For Hobbs, making an informed or media literate choice about media consumption and creation requires that students critically engage with new media forms, or “symbol systems, tools, and technologies” (p. 159), by asking questions about texts; learning to compose through digital, electronic, and virtual means; and sharing ideas through new modes and mediums of representation. With this in mind, Hobbs reiterates the need for people (teachers, parents, students) to take greater responsibility for their own reading and uses of texts." [6]


Renee Hobbs' work is focused on university students and K-12 educators.[7] Hobbs co-directs the URI Graduate Certificate in Digital Literacy, a 12-credit intensive program to advance leadership in digital literacy. [8] Hobbs helped build a national organization for the media literacy education community, beginning with the Harvard Institute on Media Education, which ran at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1993 and 1994, gathering over 200 educators from across the United States with interests in media literacy education [9]:14 With Elizabeth Thoman, Lisa Reisberg and Nancy Chase Garcia, she created the Partnership for Media Education, which evolved into the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA), the first national membership organization for media literacy.[9]:16 The organization has hosted six national conferences since 1996 and is now known as the National Association for Media Literacy Education. She served as President in 1998. The organization now has over 500 members and continues to host bi-annual conferences, including the most recent one in Philadelphia in June, 2015.[10]

Curriculum development[edit]

Hobbs created curriculum materials designed to help build media literacy skills.[11] To help viewers understand and analyze non-fiction television programming, she created "KNOW TV:Changing What, Why and How you Watch" in collaboration with The Learning Channel (TLC), winning a Golden Cable ACE Award [12] for The Learning Channel and Time Warner Cable in 1995. The program identifies "nine critical questions" for analyzing non-fiction film and television, including: "How are image, sound and language used to manipulate the message? and "What techniques are used to enhance the authenticity of the message?" Hobbs' collaboration with media industry partners was controversial, especially for opponents of the Channel One news program, who criticized her work with teachers in the Billerica Public Schools, one of the first school districts in the nation to subscribe to the program [13]

Her 1994 documentary, Tuning in to Media: Literacy for the Information Age featured Neil Postman, Kathleen Tyner, David Considine, Barry Duncan and Robert Kubey. It analyzes press coverage and entertainment media's representation of the Rodney King beating and Los Angeles riots, and won a Parent's Choice award. She also helped create a parent education program, “The Family and Community Critical Viewing Project” in collaboration with Cable in the Classroom, which has reached more than 100,000 parents over five years.[14]

With the Maryland State Department of Education and the Discovery Channel, Hobbs created Assignment: Media Literacy, a comprehensive media literacy curriculum for integrating media literacy into the K-12 curriculum. For thousands of educators in the State of Maryland, this program helped them initiate media analysis and composition projects in elementary schools, middle-schools, and high schools.[15] She also co-authored Elements of Language (2000, Holt, Rinehart, Winston), the best-selling English language arts textbook series and the first to systematically include media literacy.[16]

Hobbs has explored using the power of online gaming to communicate media literacy. With support from the U.S. Office on Women’s Health, she created My Pop Studio,[17] an award-winning [18] edutainment website that introduces tween girls to media literacy concepts in the form of an online game that takes girls “behind the scenes” of popular music, television, magazines, and online media.

In 2015, Hobbs introduced a user-generated website for learning, "Mind Over Media: Analyzing Contemporary Propaganda" [19] where users can browse examples of images and video propaganda from all over the world, rate and evaluate examples as beneficial or harmful, and comment and share interpretations. Educators can create a custom gallery and download lesson plans on viral media and content marketing, two new forms of contemporary propaganda.

Policy and advocacy[edit]

With support from the John L. and James S. Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute, Hobbs developed Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, which was released in Washington DC on November 11, 2010. The white paper presents a synthesis of the various new literacies emerging over the past 50 years and identifies challenges that educators and school leaders need to address. Ten action steps are recommended to help bring digital and media literacy to all 300 million Americans.

With her colleagues Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, she has explored how copyright and fair use affect the work of those in media literacy education. After discovering that educators are confused about their rights to use copyrighted materials for media literacy education, she helped develop the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education,[20] which clarifies how the doctrine of fair use applies to educators who use digital and mass media for developing critical thinking and communication skills.[21] In April 2010, she published Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning [22](Corwin/Sage, 2010).

In 2009, Hobbs formally petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office to grant an exemption to Section 1201 of the DMCA for K-12 educators and students, enabling them to legally "rip" copy-protected movie DVDs. That action resulted in an exemption released in July, 2010 that clarifies when people can legally bypass CSS for fair use purposes.[23]

Renee Hobbs received an Ed.D. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an M.A. and B.A. from the University of Michigan in Communication, Film/Video, and English Literature.

See also[edit]

Media literacy


  • Hobbs, R. & Moore, D.C. (2013). Discovering media literacy: Teaching media literacy and popular culture in elementary school. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin: Sage.
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Beverly Hills: Corwin/Sage.
  • Hobbs, R. (2010). Copyright clarity: How fair use supports digital learning. Beverly Hills: Corwin/Sage.
  • Hobbs, R. (2007). Reading the media: Media literacy in high school English. New York: Teachers College Press.
  • Hobbs, R., Odell, L., Vacca, R., Irwin, J. (2004). Elements of language. Textbook series, grades 6- 12. Austin TX: Holt, Rinehart Winston.

Journal articles[edit]

  • Hobbs, R. (2013). The blurring of art, journalism and advocacy: Confronting 21st century propaganda in a world of online journalism. I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society 8(3), 625 – 638. (Moritz College of Law, The Ohio State University)
  • Hobbs, R. (2013). Improvization and strategic risk taking in informal learning with digital media literacy. Learning, Media and Technology, 38(2), 1 – 28.
  • Hobbs, R. & RobbGrieco, M. (2012). African-American children’s active reasoning about media texts as a precursor to media literacy. Journal of Children and Media 6(4), 502 – 519.
  • Babad, E., Peer, A., & Hobbs, R. (2012). Media literacy and media bias: Are media literacy students less susceptible to non-verbal judgment biases? Psychology of Popular Media Culture.1(2), 97 – 107. Doi: 10.137/a0028181
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). The state of media literacy: A rejoinder. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 55(4), 601 -604.
  • Cappello, G., Felini, D. & Hobbs, R. (2011). Reflections on global developments in media literacy education: Bridging theory and practice. Journal of Media Literacy Education 3(2), 66 – 73.
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). The state of media literacy: A response to Potter. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 55(3), 419 – 430.
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). What a difference ten years can make: Research possibilities for the future of media literacy education. Journal of Media Literacy Education 3(1), 29 – 31.
  • Morris, N., Gilpin, D., Lenos, M. & Hobbs, R. (2011). Interpretations of cigarette advertisement warning labels by Philadelphia Puerto Ricans. Journal of Health Communication 16(8), 908 – 922.
  • Hobbs, R., Yoon, J., Al-Humaidan, R., Ebrahimi, A. & Cabral, N. (2011). Online digital media in elementary school. Journal of Middle East Media 7(1), 1 – 23. Available:
  • Hobbs, R., Ebrahimi, A., Cabral, N., Yoon, J., & Al-Humaidan, R. (2011). Field-based teacher education in elementary media literacy as a means to promote global understanding. Action for Teacher Education 33, 144 – 156.
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). A snapshot of multinational media education in six European countries. Trans: Un’istantanea multinazionale sulla ME in sei paesi europei. Media Education. Studi, ricerche, buone pratiche [Italy] 1(1), 53 – 70.
  • Hobbs, R. (2011). L’education aux images, l’education aux medias et l’essor de la culture numerique (trans: Visual literacy, media literacy and the rise of digital culture). Les Dossiers de l’Audiovisuel. Paris, France.
  • Hobbs, R. (2010). Empowerment and protection: Complementary strategies for digital and media literacy education in the United States. Formare, 70. 1 – 17. Rome, Italy.
  • Hobbs, R., Jaszi, P. and Aufderheide, P. (2009). How media literacy educators reclaimed copyright and fair use. International Journal of Learning and Media 1(3), 33 – 48.
  • Hobbs, R. & Jensen, A. (2009). The past, present and future of media literacy education. Journal of Media Literacy Education 1(1), 1 -11.
  • Hobbs, R. (2009). Medienpädagogik in den Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika. (trans: Media Literacy Education in the United States) Merz 96. Munich, Germany.
  • Primack B.A. & Hobbs R. (2009). Which specific components of media literacy are most strongly associated with adolescent smoking? American Journal of Health Behavior 33(2), 192-201.
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). Approaches to teacher education in media literacy education. Higher Education Research & Evaluation 1, 58-64. Beijing, China.
  • Hobbs, R. & Yoon, J. (2008). Creating empowering environments in youth media organizations. Youth Media Reporter 2 (4). Available online:
  • Hobbs, R., Broder, S., Pope, H. & Rowe, J. (2006). How adolescent girls interpret weight-loss advertising. Health Education Research. 21(5), 719-730.
  • Primack BA, Gold MA, Switzer GE, Hobbs R, Land SR, Fine MJ. (2006). Development and validation of a Smoking Media Literacy scale. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 160, 369 – 374.
  • Primack, BA, Hobbs, R., Switzer, GE, Land, S., Fine, MF & Gold, M (2006). Associations between media literacy and adolescent smoking. Journal of Adolescent Health 38(2), 93-94.
  • Hobbs, R. (2006). Non-optimal uses of video in the classroom. Learning, Media and Technology 31(1), 45 - 50.
  • Hobbs, R. (2005). Tsunami: idée dall’America. Translation: Tsunami: Thoughts from America [on using news as a teaching resource for K-6 students]. Scuola Materna 92(17), 9 – 11. Rome, Italy.
  • Hobbs, R. (2005). Strengthening media education in the twenty-first century: Opportunities for the State of Pennsylvania. Arts Education Policy Review 106 (4), 13-45.
  • Hobbs, R. (2004). A review of school-based initiatives in media literacy. American Behavioral Scientist 48(1), 48-59.
  • Hobbs, R. (2004). Does media literacy work? An empirical study of learning how to analyze advertisements. Advertising and Society Review 5(4), 1 – 28. Available online:
  • "Project MUSE - Does Media Literacy Work? An Empirical Study of Learning How to Analyze Advertisements". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  • Hobbs, R. (2004). Media literacy, general semantics and K-12 education. ETC: A Review of General Semantics 61(1), 24-28.
  • Hobbs, R. (2004). Analyzing advertising in the English language arts classroom: A quasi-experimental study. Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, 4(2). Available online:
  • Hobbs, R. & Frost, R. (2003). Measuring the acquisition of media literacy skills. Reading Research Quarterly 38(3), 330-354.
  • Hobbs, R. (2001). Integrating media literacy into the study of world literature. The Writing Instructor. Available online:
  • Hobbs, R. (2001). Classroom strategies for exploring realism and authenticity in media messages. Reading Online, 4(9). International Reading Association. Available online:
  • "Reading Online". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  • Hobbs, R. & Frost, R. (1999). Instructional practices in media literacy education and their impact on students’ learning. New Jersey Journal of Communication, 6(2), 123-148.
  • Hobbs, R. (1999). Deciding what to believe in an age of information abundance. Sacred Heart Review 42, 4 – 26.
  • Denniston, R., Hobbs, R. & Arkin, E. (1998). Media literacy as a complementary strategy to social marketing. Social Marketing Quarterly 4(4), 40 – 42.
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). The seven great debates in the media literacy movement. Journal of Communication, 48 (2), 9-29.
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). Integrating the use of film and television into management education. Journal of Management Development, 17(4), 259-272.
  • Hobbs, R. (1994). Teaching media literacy—Yo! Are you hip to this? Media Studies Journal 8 (4), 135 – 145.
  • Hobbs, R. & Mandel, R. (1991). The right to a reputation after death. Communications and the Law 13, 25 - 46.
  • Hobbs, R., Stauffer, J., Frost, R. & Davis, A. (1988). How first time viewers comprehend editing. Journal of Communication 38 (4), 50-60.

Chapters in edited books[edit]

  • Hobbs, R. and Donnelly, K. (2011). Towards a pedagogy of fair use for multimedia composition. In Martine Courant Rife, Shaun Slattery, and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (Eds.) Copy (write): Intellectual property in the writing classroom. West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press (pp. 275 – 294).
  • Hobbs, R., Cohn-Geltner, H. & Landis, J. (2011). Views on the news: Media literacy empowerment competencies in the elementary grades. In C. Von Feilitzen, U. Carlsson & C. Bucht (Eds.). New questions, new insights, new approaches. The International Clearinghouse on Children, Youth and Media. NORDICOM. University of Gothenburg, Sweden (pp. 43 – 56).
  • Hobbs, R. and RobbGrieco, M. (2010). Passive dupes, code breakers, or savvy users: Theorizing media literacy education in English language arts. In D. Lapp and D. Fisher (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching the English language arts. Third edition. New York: Routledge (pp. 283 – 289).
  • Hobbs, R. (2009). Supporting the development of children’s civic engagement: When the teachable moment goes digital and interactive. In P. Verniers (Ed.), Media Literacy in Europe: Controversies, Challenges, Perspectives. EUROMEDUC. European Commission: Brussels, Belgium (p. 97 – 104).
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). Debates and challenges facing new literacies in the 21st century. In Sonia Livingstone and Kristin Drotner (Eds.), International handbook of children, media and culture. London: Sage (pp. 431 – 447).
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). Introduction. Handbook of teaching literacy through the visual and communicative arts. Second Edition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. International Reading Association (pps.1 -3).
  • Hobbs, R. and Rowe, J. (2008). Creative remixing and digital learning: Developing an online media literacy tool for girls. In P. C. Rivoltella (Ed.). Digital literacy: Tools and methodologies for an information society. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Press (pgs. 230 – 241).
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). A response to Staples, “Are we our brothers’ keepers? Exploring the social functions of reading in the life of an African American urban adolescent.” In Marc Lamont Hill and Lalitha Vasudevan (Eds.) Media, learning and sites of possibility. New York: Peter Lang (pp. 73 – 76).
  • Hobbs, R. (2006). Reconceptualizing media literacy for the digital age. In A Martin and D. Madigan (Eds). Literacies for learning in the digital age. London: Facets Press (pp. 99 – 109).
  • Hobbs, R. (2006) Multiple visions of multimedia literacy: Emerging areas of synthesis. In Handbook of literacy and technology, Volume II. International Reading Association. Michael McKenna, Linda Labbo, Ron Kieffer and David Reinking, Editors. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (pp. 15 –28).
  • Hobbs, R. (2005). Media literacy and the K-12 content areas. In G. Schwarz and P. Brown (Eds.) Media literacy: Transforming curriculum and teaching. National Society for the Study of Education, Yearbook 104. Malden, MA: Blackwell (pp. 74 – 99).
  • Hobbs, R. (2003). Understanding teachers' experiences with media literacy in the classroom. In B. Duncan and K. Tyner (Eds.) Visions/Revisions: Moving forward with media education. Madison, WI: National Telemedia Council (pp. 100 – 108).
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). Building citizenship skills through media literacy education. In M. Salvador & P. Sias (Eds.), The public voice in a democracy at risk. Westport, CT: Praeger (pp. 57 –76).
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). Media literacy in Massachusetts. In A. Hart (Ed.), Teaching the media: International perspectives. Mahwah, N.J: Erlbaum Associates (pp. 127 – 144).
  • Hobbs, R. (1996). Expanding the concept of literacy. In R. Kubey (Ed.), Media literacy in the information age. New York: Transaction Press, (pp. 163 – 186).
  • Hobbs, R. & Frost, R. (1991). Comprehension of editing conventions by African tribal villagers. In F. Korzenny & S. Ting Toomey (Eds.), Mass media effects across cultures. Beverly Hills, Sage Publications (pp. 110–129).
  • Hobbs, R. (1990). Television and the shaping of cognitive skills. In A. Olson, C. Parr & D. Parr (Eds.), Video icons and values. Albany NY: State University of New York Press (pp. 25 – 37).
  • Perkins, D.. & Hobbs, R. (1989). Conditions of learning in novice programmers. In E. Soloway & J. Spohrer, (Eds.), Studying the novice programmer. Hillsdale NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, (pp. 45 – 52).

Special Academic Publications[edit]

  • Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action. Washington, D.C.: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Aspen Institute. Available online:
  • Culver, S., Hobbs, R. & Jensen, A. (2010). Media Literacy in the United States. International Media Literacy Research Forum. Available online:
  • Center for Social Media, Media Education Lab at Temple University, Washington College of Law (2008). Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education. Washington DC: Center for Social Media.
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). Media Literacy. In Neil Salkind & K. Rasmussen (Eds). Encyclopedia of educational psychology. Beverly Hills: Sage (pp. 650 – 652). Doi: 10.4135/9781412863848.n171
  • Hobbs, R. Jaszi, P. & Aufderheide, P. (2007). The cost of copyright confusion for media literacy education. Center for Social Media: Washington, D.C.
  • Hobbs, R. (2007). Entries on: Media Literacy Key Concepts, Media Education International. In Jeffrey Jensen Arnett (Ed.). Encyclopedia of children, adolescents and the media. Beverly Hills: Sage (pp. 497 – 499; 528 – 529).
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). Literacy in the information age. In J. Flood, D. Lapp, & S. Brice Heath (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching literacy through the communicative and visual arts. International Reading Association. New York: Macmillan (pp. 7–14).
  • Hobbs, R. (1994). Pedagogical issues in U.S. media education. In S. Deetz (Ed.), Communication yearbook 17. Newbury Park: Sage Publications (pp. 453 – 466).

Partial list of multimedia curriculum[edit]

  • Hobbs, R. & Mendoza, K. (2008). Growing up online. Multimedia study guide. Boston: WGBH Frontline. Available online:
  • Hobbs, R. (2008). What’s Your Media IQ? Interactive quiz helps users determine their critical engagement with the news and mass media. Independent Film Channel, IFC Media Project. Available online:
  • Hobbs, R. (2007). The media straight up! Second edition. CD-ROM multimedia curriculum. Distributed by Drug Free Pennsylvania, Harrisburg PA. Author: Renee Hobbs.
  • Hobbs, R. (2006). My Pop Studio. Website/online learning and curriculum materials. Philadelphia: Media Education Lab. Available:
  • Hobbs, R. (2002). Media literacy: Viewing and representing in Texas. Levels I and II. Austin: Texas Education Agency.
  • Hobbs, R. (2000). Assignment: Media literacy. Levels: Elementary, Middle School, High School. Bethesda, MD: Discovery Communications and Maryland State Department of Education.
  • Garrett, S., Frey, J., Wildason, M., & Hobbs, R. (1995). Messages and meaning: A guide to understanding media. Alexandria, VA: Newspaper Association of America. Author.
  • Hobbs, R. (1998). SNAPS: Photo cards for media literacy. Multimedia curriculum. Distributed by the Center for Media Literacy, Los Angeles. Author: Renee Hobbs.
  • TV Smarts (1998). Video. Distributed by the National Cable Television Association: Washington, D.C. Concept, treatment and script: Renee Hobbs.


  1. ^ "Voices on Antisemtisim interview with Renee Hobbs". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2010-12-02. 
  2. ^ "Welcome | Media Education Lab". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  3. ^ "JMLE 4:2 – Editor’s Introduction  : National Association for Media Literacy Education". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  4. ^ Hobbs, R. (1998). The seven great debates in the media literacy movement. Journal of Communication, 48 (2): 9-29.
  5. ^ Hobbs, R. (2007). Reading the media: Media literacy in high school English. New York: Teachers College Press.
  6. ^ Jensen, A. Review of Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English by Renee Hobbs, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Nov 2008,
  7. ^ "Media literacy - Wikiversity". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  8. ^ Graduate Certificste in Digital Literacy, University of Rhode Island
  9. ^ a b Heins, M. & Cho, M. 2003. Media Literacy: An Alternative to Censorship. New York: Free Expression Policy Project,
  10. ^ National Association for Media Literacy Education,
  11. ^ Media Education Lab at Temple University,
  12. ^ Internet Movie Database, 1995-2,
  13. ^ Golder, D. (1999, Dec 17) `Media Literacy' Sparks a New Debate Over Commercialism in Schools, Wall Street Journal,
  14. ^ Cable's Ongoing Commitment
  15. ^ Kubey, R. (2003). Media Literacy in the Information Age. Transaction Publishers,,M1
  16. ^ "Unknown Project In URL". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  17. ^ "My Pop Studio". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  18. ^ Interactive Media Awards, 2007,
  19. ^ "Mind Over Media". Retrieved 2015-06-06. 
  20. ^ "The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education | Center for Media & Social Impact". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  21. ^ Stansbury, M. (2008). "This copyright guide offers shelter." E-School News,; No author (2008, December). "Copyright 101." School Library Journal,
  22. ^ "Corwin: Copyright Clarity: How Fair Use Supports Digital Learning: Renee Hobbs: 9781412981590". Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  23. ^ "New copyright ruling affects educators | eSchool News | eSchool News". Retrieved 2014-02-12.