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Media Ethnography: Research Skills and Ethical Considerations Used in Audience Research - Essay Example

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Media Ethnography: Research Skills and Ethical  Considerations Used in Audience Research  Add Add Add Add Date Media Ethnography: Research Skills and Ethical  Considerations Used in Audience Research  Introduction Admittedly, audience has a very vital role in media communication…
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Download file to see previous pages There are many factors the content producers take into consideration while producing their text. They are audience engagement, audience expectations, audience fore-knowledge, audience identification, audience placement, and audience research. Though there are various methods adopted for media research, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in the use of ethnography as it is claimed by many that in order to understand a group, it is very important to live with them and to ‘become one among them’. Theories on Media and Audience According to the Frankfurt School (Cited in Hanes, 2000), media is like a hypodermic syringe; and this ‘Effects’ model envisions that media injects its contents into the thoughts of the audience, and the audience accepts the thoughts, opinions, attitudes, and beliefs expressed by the media without questions. Evidently, this model has its birth based on the German fascist use of media for propaganda which was later followed by the American capitalist society. However, theorists were sure that media does not have such a direct influence on the minds of people. According to some, media only has a weaker influence on people. Other more prominent influences will be factors like religion and personal contacts. As Gunter (2000, pp. 10-11) opines, the ‘Effects’ model failed mainly because it did not take audiences as individuals with their own beliefs, opinions, and attitudes. Another new approach to the relation between media and audience was the ‘Uses and Gratification’ model. This model does not look into how media affects the audience, but how the audience uses the media. According to the new concept, audiences have various needs, and for the fulfillment of these needs, they turn to media for the consumption of information. This model acknowledges that audience has a choice of texts to choose from. The Uses and Gratification model assumes that the audiences’ wish for satisfaction results in the media providing output to fulfil their desires. So, this is against the Effects model that claims that audience are made to enjoy whatever is produced by the media. However, the two models failed look into the influence of their social background on how people interpret the meaning of the text. So, there arose another theory, the ‘Screen Theory’, that suggests that the audience are positioned by the media text. According to the theory, all media texts have a mode of address, which means that media text addresses its intended users in a particular way, trying to establish a link between the producer and the audience. For example, when the tabloids go for a more emotional, and at times, xenophobic language, for the broadsheet papers, the language is more impersonal and formal. However, the failure of Screen, Uses and Gratification, and Effects models is that they all point out that meaning is embedded within the text, and audience can easily accept these meanings without questioning them. However, as audiences too have their own beliefs and opinions, they do not readily accept and agree with the meanings in the text. According to the current theory on media influence, there is a preferred embedded meaning in each text. However, the way the meaning is decoded by each individual audience depends on various frameworks outside the text, ranging from class, gender, age, education and cultural values. So, the individual interpretation of the meaning embedded in the text ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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