Let’s run through some names.

We’ll start with Noam Chomsky. How about Susan Faludi? Bill Strickland? Sut Jally? Jeff Cohen? Ellen Wartella? Pepi Leistyna? Naomi Klein?

Even if you don’t recognise at least one name (but surely you do!), all these people are heavy-weights in media analysis, cultural commentary and free-thinking lecture circuits. Together (and with others), they act as the leading minds at the Media Education Foundation.

A non-profit organisation, the MEF was established in 1992 and “produces and distributes video documentaries to encourage critical thinking and debate about the relationship between media ownership, commercial media content, and the democratic demand for free flows of information, diverse representations of ideas and people, and informed citizen participation.”

Topics include marketing, children and media, peak oil, government propaganda, sexual themes in advertising, cultural norms as defined by the mass media, corporate branding and the media’s portrayal of Middle East issues in the West.

The MEF provide their (very expensive) documentaries with handouts and study guides so students can explore related activities, discuss and analyse the issues for themselves. Happily, they also make full-length previews (in a teeny-tiny format) freely available for viewing on their website. (I’ve discovered that the small format is the perfect size for watching the documentaries on an Ipod.)

Really, I can’t recommend these documentaries highly enough. Perhaps they’re not very slick and glossy, but the topics they cover are hard-hitting and provocative — in a good way. They definitely make you wonder if you’re just swallowing a line cleverly baited by marketers and consumer analysts.

Have a look, you’re sure to find something of interest, and it may get you thinking differently too.