Interpretive Media — Specialty Competency for NPS Interpreters

Competency Description

Last Revision–April, 2011

Interpretive media products connect the interests of the visitor to the significance and relevance of the site through a variety of formats, including publications, wayside exhibits, web sites, audio/visual, and other interactive materials. Media products endure longer than other forms of interpretation and can reach broad audiences by addressing diverse learning styles.

In a well-developed interpretive media product, the text, graphics, objects, audio, video, and other elements are brought together through effective design and composition to create opportunities for audiences to form their own intellectual and emotional connections with the meanings of the site’s resources. The media development process incorporates feedback and evaluation, along with the principles of accessibility and universal design, to facilitate and enhance the visitor’s experience.

Competency Standard

To be successful in developing park-produced interpretive media, interpreters will:

  • Plan, research and develop meaningful interpretive content for site-produced media products
  • Develop skills to participate effectively on a media planning team for larger projects, or serve as project lead on in-house projects
  • Understand the potential uses of media compared to personal services and analyze and select appropriate media for specific audiences and interpretive purposes
  • Use well-researched knowledge about park resources, audiences, and the principles of interpretation to develop media products that enable visitors to form their own intellectual and emotional connections to the meanings — significance and relevance — of the site
  • Recognize and apply basic principles of design and composition to enhance access to resource meanings
  • Identify and evaluate the interpretive potential of text, graphics, audio visual, and other media elements
  • Apply interpretive writing skills to produce content for media
  • Possess and apply a basic awareness of accessibility laws, Universal Design concepts, and NPS standards/policies (for NPS employees)
  • Possess and apply a basic understanding of intellectual property, including acquisition and use rights
  • Seek and incorporate feedback from a variety of sources, including peers, stakeholders, media specialists, and informal or formal audience evaluation sources, as appropriate
  • Identify and articulate the elements of interpretive effectiveness in any media product, and provide suggestions for enhancing access to resource meanings
  • Identify their current level of media skill and understand how to collaborate with others to produce the most effective and professional media products


Here is an interpretive media toolkit to support this competency.

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