by Erin McNeill
We are sad to announce that Claire Douglas Beach, friend, teacher, filmmaker, and lifelong indefatigable advocate for media literacy education, has died after a long battle with an illness that slowed her down only a little. The last time I talked with her she was planning a parade to mark her transition to hospice.
Claire was a member of the Media Literacy Now board of directors and a key voice in the development of the organization. Her advocacy in Washington State led to our first major legislative success. Her contribution there significantly elevated media literacy in the national awareness. Over the past few years as she underwent treatment, her spirit was indomitable. She would appear for meetings on Zoom with blue hair or a henna-decorated head, energetically declaring the need to work harder to get media literacy education to young people. She appeared on PBS NewsHour in 2017 to discuss the work of Media Literacy Now.
Claire was the president and longtime member of the Action for Media Education advocacy group in Seattle when in 2016 she led the effort to pass legislation in Washington State that became the model for a bill that has been passed by five states and debated in numerous other statehouses across the country. And again in 2017 she led a team in advocating for a successful follow-on bill to provide an appropriation, a big win for media literacy. Washington continues to be a leader in media literacy as an effect of Claire’s advocacy there. She was named the first Media Literacy Now Champion in 2016.
She has taught and inspired thousands of children at all ages. She was still working with young children in the classroom, and helping them navigate their media experiences, before the start of the pandemic, even as she struggled with her health. In Seattle, since 1995 she had been involved in various media educational projects, media literacy workshop presentations, computer education, a parenting handbook, and working with groups such as Action for Media Education (formally Seattle Academy for Family Television), as a board member and member of the Speakers Bureau, Foundation for Family Television and Fast Forward Media Lab.
Recent clients were the Seattle Public Schools, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), Seattle-King County Public Health Department Tobacco Prevention Department, University Of Washington Teens Futures Media Network and King County Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse’s Partners in Prevention Conference. She taught video production at the Seattle Center Academy Summer Arts Camp for years for KCTS Television (Channel 9).
She was the Technology Media Instructor, Edmonds-Woodway high school, Meadowdale high school and Lynnwood high school (September 2001-2016) where she taught introduction to video production, advanced video production, stop motion animation, tv studio news and video journalism for 9th-12th graders. She has taught media production and media literacy in many other capacities and in many other levels since 1984.
In addition she practiced what she preached as an award-winning documentary filmmaker and television producer.
Independent Video Credits:
“The Open Air Circus” (1989) Produced, directed, photographed and edited documentary of a children’s circus.
“Why GI Joe Has Got To Go” (1988) Produced, directed, hosted and edited hour-long television broadcast about the influences of war toys and cartoons for children. Awarded First Place for Public Affairs Programming from the Massachusetts Cable Commission Community Television Contest.
“Free Speech and Public Access” (1988) Produced and hosted hour-long television program on first amendment issues and public access cable. Awarded honorable mention for Public Affairs Programming from Somerville Community Access Television Community Awards Contest.
“The Staircase” (1986) Produced, photographed and edited historical documentary about youth community activism at a local housing project.
“Stronger Than Before” (1984) Field producer and videographer for documentary about women in the peace movement. Awarded First Place for Documentaries from JVC National Video Contest. Nationally broadcast on PBS
BOARDS AND AFFILIATIONS
Media Literacy Now (2016-present)
Action For Media Education (1997-2016 President 2005-2016)
Experience Music Project (EMP) Educational Advisory Board (November 2004-05)
Seattle Community Access Television (SCAN) Board of Directors (January 2005-present)
Washington Educational Association (WEA) (2000-present)
Edmonds Educational Association (EEA) (2001-present)
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) TV and Radio Educators Committee for State Standards (2003-present)
M.E.E.T. Media Educators Excellence Team (2002-present)
Action For Media Education ((AME) formally Foundation for Family Television) Advisory Board (February 1997-present)
911 Media Arts Center (Seattle) Organizational Member (1998-present)
Fast Forward Media Lab (Seattle) (1996)
The Seattle Academy for Family Television (Seattle) (1996)
Women in Film and Video (Boston) (1988-1993)
Somerville Community Access Television Board of Directors (1985-1988)
Somerville Educational Cable Council, President (1984-1988)
Women’s Video Collective (Boston) (1983-1995) – Archives now at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe
Somerville Producers Group (1982-1988)