Category Archives: Debates

How audiences respond to media

Understanding how media audiences respond to media products.

Firstly, lets work our way into understanding a few theories as to how an audience might respond to a media product.

The hypodermic needle model is a theory of communications, that suggests that a message that is displayed or extruded via a media product is directly accepted into the minds of receivers, regardless of consent or resistance. The theory is also known as the “Magic Bullet” theory, and suggests that any media’s message is a bullet that is fired from the “Media gun” into the viewers head, and that the public cannot escape from the media’s influence. Overall, this method usually only works on mediums where the recipient has no prior experience.

A direct example can be of the 1938 broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” which spread panic across the American mass audience due to its unsettling and new nature. However, much controversy still remains around this, as the audience still had a diverse and widespread view on the film, even if the reactions were noticeable. The theory is therefore just a theory, and has many factors that can prove or disprove such an allegation.

However, on the flip side is the Uses and gratifications theory, an approach as to how and why media audiences will consistently seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs. The driving slogan for the theory is “Why do people use the media and what do they use them for?”, and it discusses as to how the users choose media to satisfy specific needs on a social basis, relaxation basis, or even a basis to escape from reality itself. The con to this theory though is that it only takes into consideration the audiences that actively seek out media, and does not apply to passive interpreters. People whom follow trends simply because its a trend, are considered passive, as an example.

The audience Reception theory is a way of characterizing “waves” of audience research, typically within the 1980’s and 90’s.

The premises of this theory are that the media has an agenda based premises that can be divided into 3.

  1. That the same event can be encoded, or displayed in more than one way;
  2. The message contains more than one possibly way to perceived or read
  3. Understanding the message can be problematic, regardless of how natural it may seem.

It talks about media in a sense that is often open to perception or the way it may be interpreted, as some media products are unspecific about any goals. A good example of this might be Video installations, as many installations are deemed artistic in that they do not resemble anything specific, but then tell a story that is open for questioning and has no 100% sure-fire answer, allowing for users or audiences to interpret meanings for themselves. The theory also states that this isn’t necessarily a good thing, however – as quoted by the word “Problematic”.

This then brings us onto the wider spectrum of audience perception, and speaks about the wider picture. Passive and Active consumption of media within audiences.

We, as an audience no matter the time or place are constantly receiving passive and active consumption of media throughout our day to day lives, from the branding on the computer screen you may be working off of in the office as a passive consumption, to the active consumption of seeking out specific music and playing it for your own enjoyment. All of this is media consumption, regardless of the way that it is perceived or the way that it is advertised and executed.

Passive consumption of media specifically talks about the way we as individuals are influenced by things around us on a day to day basis without consent or consideration. This affects the person on psychological scale but doesn’t always manifest itself into view or consideration, meaning that we can passively recognize things but not necessarily remember where from.

Active consumption is the direct opposite of passive consumption, as a person would generally go out of their way to consume specific media produce in order to satisfy a personal need (Going back to the aforementioned uses and gratifications theory), often allowing the audience to directly know what they are recognizing and engaging activities within.

There is another theory that is the direct opposite of the hypodermic needle theory, and that is the Culmination theory. The theory generically states that over time we will feel a need to give into a certain media product in order to quell a specific need. A good example of a product line that follows this theory religiously is the Coke-cola advertisements. The coke cola company is one of the largest and richest companies to date, yet advertisements are few and far between when it comes to public commercials. When advertisements do play however, they are at large public events that are often broadcast nationally, or during holiday seasons. By doing this over decades of time, they have gradually seeded themselves into the culture and economy as a large asset, allowing the culmination theory to take great effect. We see the Coke-cola adverts and crave them, applying to the hypodermic needle model, but when we see them a few years later, will we be buying them for the same reason? No – we’ll be buying them because we know we like it!

Finally, a theory to talk about is the desensitisation theory, and should definitely be taken into account for any production company with the intention on researching target audiences or generalizations for their audiences. The desensitisation theory suggests that depending on what we watch and when we watch it in comparison with other media products of that genre from a different era, that we will react differently. Old western films in their day were intense, because not only were they new- but they held many new and unique aspects of film making, an example being shoot-outs that involve little music and a lot of silent tension between two people. However, after this technique within this genre of media became more and more widespread, people began to expand to much more “fuller” action scenes, often including more people, guns, and eventually music, simply because the effect that the genre used to have is causing less of an effect on the audience.

This can also be perceived in an alternative way – by taking someone who is used to our genre of shooters when it comes to games and films, and allow them to play or view a media product that holds the older “wild west” feel with that older tension, but because we are so used to the fuller aspect of tension, some people will be desensitized and not feel the same tension than those who lived in the era of that products release.

Internet censorship result (Here is the pie chart results for should internet be censored)
The result is out of 10 people, half of the people asked thought the internet should be censored. One person wasn’t sure and the rest believed it should be censored. The way I gathered it was by handing out a questionnaire sheet to everyone asking their age, gender and thoughts on internet censorship. I got some inspiration for the questions from Debate org, as I wanted to see their responses and see it is similar to the responses to the online debate. Once I’d collected the questionnaires I went online and used pie chart website to create one, by doing this the chart came back a visual percentage of the questionnaires.
These results are different to the ones I have seen as on other websites like ( where 12% of people agree with censorship and 88% disagree with censorship. The most frequent statement made by people who agree with censorship said they want to protect children from pornography and to tackle online piracy. On the other side of the argument people said that censoring the internet gives world governments control over human rights, however in the U.S they have a written constitutional bill of freedom of speech.
In the UK though there isn’t a written Bill which states that the public have the right for freedom of speech it is implied in the Magna Carta, as in the U.S their is a fanatical Christian cult called The Westbo Baptist Church. This cult protest outside of dead soldiers funerals, due to the first amendment they have to right to express their views no matter how fanatical it may be. However in the UK they would be arrested on the grounds of breaking the public order act under section part 1 4A of Intentional harassment alarm or distress.
The definition of Internet censorship is to restrict the public access to Adult or pirated websites online, internet censorship groups had in the past support from Governments in America and Europe to regulate the internet. What the actual meaning is to stop these pornographic websites and online piracy, however governments and organisations  hijacked the plans when the SOAPA PIPA Bills where introduced in U.S and Europe. The first stage was bringing down pirate bay, in retaliation to internet the hacker group Anonymous hacked into the FBI website and other government websites to cause total anarchy. However that little stunt gave people the excuse to go from censor to ban, first YouTube came under the firing due to the copyrighted material music, films and video games. Other websites like LetMeWatchThis and Watch2k where going to be closed in the bill passed, this got support from musicians as they want people to pay to listen to their music as on YouTube it is free for anyone to watch.

[Pleas make it clear if you want me to insert the image. Add the other results you have seen. Explain how you gathered the information, and define the censorship you are talking about.

Media Effect Theories part 2

Personal Identity. People use the media find out about themselves and like to see who they relate to, this is done in films where characters are presented in certain way to reflect a group of people who they can relate to. The reason why people relate to characters in films is because they imagine themselves in a similar situation, and will think to themselves ‘this is what I would have done instead’ or ‘that person didn’t handle the situation that well. One example in Hollywood disaster films is the protagonists is divorced reluctant hero who no body listens to until its to late, this appears in films like Volcano, Out Break, Day After Tomorrow and Twister.

Surveillance. This is when we use any form of media to find out whats going on around us, this could be done by reading newspaper or most commonly going onto internet news sites like the BBC. When there’s a breaking report like the Boston Bombings we only see and hear a small amount of information on the news channels, as the only thing people were told was their were two small explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. People who wanted more information went on to YouTube to see the incident and also using Tweeter to interact with people at the Marathon, people at the marathon said over Tweeter that this was a certain terrorist attack but the main international news channels were still speculating what caused the explosion.

Media Effect Theories part 1

I found this slide show on the Internet explaining the four basic needs of the media user and good examples of the ‘Uses and Gratification’.

The first one is Diversion. Diversion is the need to escape your daily life and the need to relax, this could be through watching films or playing video games. Video games are more immersive than films, as the user can interact with the game world other characters in the game. As in the episode of South Park Make Love not Warcraft, where Cartman and the other male school characters playing World of Warcraft. However another player turns up who has hacks and can kill everyone instantly, all the players confront him and defeat him with the help of the games admins. The episode makes fun of WOW (World of Warcraft) fans through the characters who take the game way to seriously and  live in the fantasy world, because the real world is boring as a persons daily routine is to go to work or school and then sit at home thinking about the weekend. When playing the game you are with real people playing out how you want your world to look like and giving yourself some meaning.

Personal relationship. Many people who play games like WOW as I explained in the first paragraph like to use that away to socialise with their friends and to meet new people, and really people use it to fulfil their needs of companionship as the map and quests of WOW are vast and extensive. So people use media to socialise and have personal relationships which they view as normal but is seen as unsociable and dangerous as people live their lives in these fantasy worlds and can’t differ from the game to reality.

Hypodermic Needle Model

According to this site ( Hypodermic Needle Model means that the mass media has massive influence on what the audience does. As the media injects messages into the audiences minds to control the way we, think, eat and react to events on news coverage like the attack of the soldier in Woolwich as the Live coverage showed the viewer graphical scenes of the attack and phone footage of one of the attackers talking to a members of the public. The next day the BBC showed footage of both attackers being shot by the police, as they want to show people that the police will act on these incidences and to discourage any other attackers in the future.

Passive or Active Consumption

An active consumption is when the audience  will engage and discuss media messages that comes across to them and some times question the media messages through life experiences. Others may interpenetrate the message in a different way or question it, by doing this the audience won’t be as suggestible to tell them what to think. Shows like ‘Question Time’ like to get politicians and journalists on the show to discuss world wide issues and domestic issues, the audience who ask the questions are more active due to the deep discussions they have with the panel than people sitting at home. However people at home can interact with Tweeter with the panelists and create debates, so Home viewers become less suggestible and more active as they can get involved in debates.

A passive consumption is when the audience doesn’t engage or question the media message but just accepts it, this what media outlets want to achieve when making a film or show as they want to view to except and not question. To get the audience into this state the story has to be believable, it doesn’t need to realistic as that would make it boring and unrealistic would look rubbish. (Media Theories)

Cultivation Theory

Cultivation theory was a theory first approached by Professor George Gerbner, dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania. He began with researching the effects of TV in peoples lives, some Cultivation theorist argue that there is long term effect which starts in small amounts and eventually builds up. A person who watches TV all day every day is considered to have a cultivated attitude were that person becomes heavily attached to TV and knows more about TV programmes than the real world, which has caused debates about the effects it has on young children both socially and education.

Reception Theory

Reception Theories is when producers or directors constructs a text encoded with hidden message or meaning that the producers or directors want to convey across to the audience. If done correctly the audience will be able to pick up the meaning or message straight away, but the audience will need to be reminded of the message through out the film this could be done through character dialogue or actions within the film.

Stuart Hall identified three types of audiences reading messages.

1) Dominant

2) Negotiated

3) Oppositional

Dominant is about what the audience wants to hear from people and agreeing, but with limited knowledge on the subject. One example is political speeches where politicians say what the public want to hear, like improvements to the NHS and improving public transport.

Negotiated is when the audience agrees, disagrees or questions a political speech or news broadcast due to perviously held news, as many people in America question FOX news as it has been seen in the past as a biased news outlet who support the Republican party.

Oppositional is when the audience recognises the Dominant message but rejects it due to culture or political opinion, as people actively rejects any political speech from a party on any subject and acts as the opposition. When the audience is in this state you can’t get any message across to them, as they have already made up their mind on a person or subject. (Slide show explaining what Reception Theory is and examples)

Internet censorship debate PowerPoint

Shaun and I worked on this.

Internet censorship introduction

I am going to conduct research and debate the issue about should the internet be censored. The reason why I am doing the debate about internet censorship  is because I have no interest in the debate and not much knowledge, this is why it is perfect as I won’t have a biased opinion towards the subject. To conduct research I have gone to numerous of debate  sites to see what the publics opinion towards internet censorship, the first site I went to ( used a thumbs up or thumbs down bar with comments of the people from both sides of the debate. According to the statistics of the site 12% of people agree with censorship, however 80% believe there should not be censorship on the internet. The comments that kept on returning form the people who agree with censorship say that ‘by doing this we stop child pornography’ and its in the interest of national security. On the other side we have people  saying  that ‘it goes against the constitution (America)’ or ‘its against our human rights’.

To conduct the research I am going to do a focus group of 16 to 70 year olds male and female and ask them this question.

1. How old are you?

2. What is your gender?

3. What nationality are you?

4. Where is your permeant resident?

5. What course or job role do you do?

6. Why do you think some people want the internet to be censored?

7. Do you think the internet should be censored?

8. Explain why you think it should should or shouldn’t be censored?

9.  What do you use the internet mainly for?

10. How many times a day to you use it roughly? (This is a online chart maker that I am using)