Interviews with Italy Reads Keynote Speaker, Professor Antonio López

Italy Reads

What It Takes To Achieve Your Dreams and Leave Your Mark: An interview with Professor López

By Ashley Mastrangeli, Giorgia Moran, Monica Umali, Giulia Farina, Ashley Villarez / FOCUS GROUP 1

Image by Jody Balsamo

On Oct. 28, 2020, Italy Reads allowed several students from different high schools—including ourselves—to meet and interview Communications and Media Studies professor and writer Antonio López on the impact young people can have on current climate change and his journey from journalism to teaching. We now believe our generation can put an end to climate change, and it’s a matter of taking things into our own hands.

“Young people will often come up to me and say I want to be a journalist. What should I study?” says López. “And my surprising answer is, don’t just study journalism: study philosophy, economics, politics, because you need to understand how the world works.” 

Image by Jody Balsamo

He says, whatever you are passionate about, you have to pursue it by investing time in it. It takes a lot of effort, practice and hard work. 

When he was in his twenties, he didn’t have any idea of what he would be doing years later: he cultivated his interests in media literacy and educated himself as an environmentalist. Now he is teaching as one of the top global experts in the field of ecomedia literacy, and he surely didn’t expect his career to be this successful. 

Professor López has always been interested in Ecomedia—the field that studies the relationship between media and the environment—but he never expected to teach about it where he is now.

It was actually a health scare that changed the course of his professional life, kick-starting his career as a teacher. He hopes to make young people aware of the fact that, no matter what your craft is, you must always practice, if you want to succeed at something that you like. 
During this path, he was inspired by the people he met outside of school, in informal environments: he believes you can learn from anyone. Even crazy people can have good ideas, he says. 

Courtesy of Professor López 

Professor López feels that the answer to the question “Why do we care?” is different for everyone. He notices that people don’t really change unless they care about something. He takes the beach as an example. Say you love the beach but, one day, you find it covered in oil. No one thought about protecting the beach up to that point, but, now that it’s gone, you start to realize that you should have protected it because you care about it. 

When we asked Professor López about the large number of protests against climate change taking place all over the world, he says he doesn’t think that governments will do anything unless there is protest, although it’s hard to do that right now because of COVID-19. 

He also talked about taking care of our immediate environment. For example, the streets in Rome aren’t clean because people throw their trash on the ground. When asked about the impact that teenagers can have on environmental issues, he believes that we can pressure schools into creating some classes to discuss these problems.  

Finally, to all young people reading this, don’t be afraid to dive into what you feel is bigger than you. You’re as big as you make yourself out to be, and with just a few key words such as commitment, stamina and resources, you can leave your mark on this world. Professor López is making sure he’s doing what his generation failed to do, and it’s now up to young people to succeed. If we can change our ways, we can change our future. 

A Real Professor. The ideas of an environmentalist on how to save our planet

By Carolina Nina, Francesca Stingo, Anna Iudicello, Giulia Alenkaer, Alessandra Peia, Chiara Bonomo, Lorenzo Lucantoni / FOCUS GROUP 3

Antonio López is a leading international specialist of media literacy education. With research on bridging sustainability with media literacy, he is currently one of the top global experts in the field of ecomedia literacy. As an authority in media literacy, he is regularly interviewed about “fake news.” He wrote three books:

 Mediacology: A Multicultural Approach to Media Literacy in the 21st Century (2008)

Greening Media Education: Bridging Media Literacy with Green Cultural Citizenship (2014)

Ecomedia Literacy: Integrating Ecology into Media Education (2020)

He has published numerous journal articles and book chapters about media education, youth media and ecomedia literacy. He teaches Introduction to Visual Communication, Writing Across the Media, Media Culture and Society, Digital Media Culture, Media and the Environment, Ecocinema, Advanced Media Theory, and Senior Capstone Project at John Cabot University. 

On Oct. 28, we interviewed professor López about his personal life and career. 

What do you think is the best and worst part of being a professor? 

According to Professor López, the best part of his job is when there is a sort of energy in the room, where everyone can say what they want because no one will judge them. Another particularly beautiful thing is when you can see the students’ eyes shining for their passion. On the other hand, the hardest part for him is deal with institutions because, as a professor, you have a lot of freedom to work with students in the way you want but sometimes institutions have a lot of rules. 

Do you think Greta Thunberg can be considered today’s Rachel Carson? 

Professor López gave us two answers: yes and no. No because Greta is not a scientist nor a writer. Instead, Rachel Carson’s success was because she had those two skills. She also inspired a whole generation in 1960 to become environmentally aware, and Greta is doing the same, although targeting young people and in more liberal countries. However, both have really strong oral skills to communicate an idea to the public in an understandable way. 

How can we distinguish fake news from real news?  

First of all, we have to check the source to understand where the news come from. It is often hard to do so because websites try to hide the main information. According to Professor López, “people that distinguish fake news are more critical.” 

When you started your career, were you expecting to reach the position you’re occupying now? 

When in college, Professor López says, he didn’t have any idea that he would be where he is now.  He was interested in the media, but he didn’t know he would ever teach about this topic. He says, “if you want to do something, for example if you want to be a journalist, don’t study only journalism but study other subject like philosophy, because we have to know how the world around us works.”   

Does the environmental question have economic interests? 

He says industries usually confuse people because they use the environmental issue to make money. It is a strategy to create confusion and to prevent the government from doing anything. Another problem is how the media are part of the economic system. They look the same but they’re not equal.