Claire Beach, Michael Danielson (current AME chair), Lynn Ziegler and Barbara Johnson hold the pens they have just received from Governor Jay Inslee after he signed Washington first piece of media literacy legislation in 2016.
Remembering Barbara Johnson
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Barbara Johnson, one of AME’s founding members on May 20,2022. Barbara remained one of media literacy’s most staunch advocates, working tirelessly to support and promote media literacy initiatives both within our state of Washington and nationally.
In addition to her involvement with AME, Barbara served for over 30 years as a key staff member for the Northwest Center for Excellence in Media Literacy, based in the College of Education at the University of Washington. During this time, Barbara helped to provide leadership on many of the Center’s projects. Colleagues who worked with Barbara greatly admired her tremendous organizational skills and the important guidance she was able to provide. Her passion for media literacy education was always a driving force and served as an inspiration not only to new students in this field but also to the many experienced teachers with whom she regularly had contact.
Governor Inslee signs the very first media literacy bill in our nation in 2016. From left to right: Governor Jay Inslee, Dennis Small, Washington Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Marilyn Cohen, Action for Media Education, Barbara Johnson, Action for Media Education
Remembering Lynn Ziegler
Lynn Ziegler, one of Action for Media Education’s founding members, died April 14, 2022. Lynn had served as AME’s media critic since the early ’90s. Her long career included writing weekly columns on children’s TV and family films for Northwest newspapers. She was a guest on national and regional radio and TV to promote quality programming for children, and was a television news writer and producer for KOMO-TV.
After leaving KOMO, Lynn created a public service announcement promoting healthy nutritional choices for children. Her MTV-style “Nutri-Rap” featured somersaulting fruits and vegetables and “a rainbow of Northwest children giving a thumbs up for good nutrition.” This spot won several awards: a Telly, two PIXI Awards, and two regional EMMYs.
One of her proudest accomplishments, Spongeheadz: U & Me, is a book Lynn described as “the essential parent handbook for the 21st Century.” Written when TV was dominant, it still contains valuable tips for parents. In her book, and throughout her life, Lynn celebrated diversity: “That’s why you’ll find drawings by children of every color and nationality inside these pages.” Lynn knew that children need to see “faces that look like his or her own” in books and other media.
She greatly valued her strong connection with Native American communities on the Kitsap Peninsula, and worked as an educator and mentor to many Native American youth.
Her experience as an educator led to her involvement with some of the statewide teen health projects sponsored by the Washington State Department of Health and the Northwest Center for Excellence in Media Literacy, University of Washington. These projects trained high school students to teach younger youth about teen health issues such as pregnancy prevention. Lynn was strongly committed to promoting youth empowerment, and these projects included a subject she was passionate about—media literacy education.
Lynn was also a member Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME), the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Free Press, and the National Academy of Television Arts and Science (NATAS).
We in AME are deeply saddened by Lynn’s passing. She is survived by her children Chris, Jesse, and Alik. Lynn’s staunch advocacy for all children will remain an inspiration. She will be greatly missed for her wonderful sense of humor, her generosity, and her warm and loving heart, expressed in so many ways to all whose lives she touched.
Remembering Claire Beach
Claire was well-loved by her students. We remember visiting her school one day and having students tell us that if it hadn’t been for Ms. Beach’s class, they would have seriously considered dropping out of school. “Her class the best class ever!” Claire seemed to have a special gift for reaching out to those young people who struggled and who seemed to thrive when given her support and encouragement.
It was Claire who first introduced AME to Senator Marko Liias. With Claire’s help and support, Senator Liias became a staunch advocate for media literacy. Since that first piece of legislation which passed in 2016, Senator Liias has continued to this day to champion legislation to support media literacy education for Washington’s K-12 students. In her honor and recognizing her work with Senator Liias to pass in 2016 the nation’s first piece of media literacy legislation which has become a model for other states, the national organization Media Literacy Now has established the Claire Beach award to be given to a state legislator who has advanced the cause of media literacy education as a priority in their state’s K-12 schools.
For over 30 years Claire Beach worked with young people in a variety of settings. She managed youth programs, served as a youth street worker for inner city teens, and taught video and media literacy skills to thousands of young people.
Since 2001, Claire taught thousands of young people in both the Seattle and Edmonds School Districts. Working as a media instructor in the technology department, Claire was passionate about integrating media literacy into all her classes. She remained a staunch and fierce advocate for media literacy throughout her life.