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Audience AS Media Studies Audience • Why is the audience important? • Each media text is produced with an audience in mind. • The audience is the receiver of the text and interprets the message that’s conveyed. • Without the audience, there is no meaning. McDonalds want you to think.... You may agree Or..... You may disagree Or..... You may think that big macs do taste good, but I’ll only have them every now and again So here we have three separate readings of that one advert In 1980 David Morley did a study of audience responses when watching the BBC TV show Spotlight. As a result of his research, he decided that audiences tend to fall into three groups based on their interpretation of the text..... Preferred Reading Negotiated Reading Oppositional Reading The preferred reading is the reading media producers hope audiences will take from the text. Audience members from outside the target audience may reject the preferred reading, receiving their own alternative message. Negotiated reading is when audiences acknowledge the preferred reading, but modify it to suit their own values and opinions. What is the PREFERRED reading? The NEGOCIATED reading? The OPPOSITIONAL reading? Consumption Patterns • We use different media at different times of the day. • To what extent does the media organise your daily routine? • Do you plan any activities around particular media output? Look at the TV schedule and identify what groups are being addressed at particular times. Audience Research • Market research is a vital part of the process concerned with discovering audience thoughts, needs, feelings and aspirations. • This gives them a detailed picture of what texts will appeal to different audiences. • Then a text can be created/packaged in a way that will deliver it to the audience successfully. • Research includes questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. Demographics • Quantitative data about audiences are broken down by institutions into demographics. • This includes age, social class, address and occupation. Definitions of socio-economic groups • AB – professional, business and white collar • C1 – higher skilled manual • C2 – lower skilled manual How might you be pigeonholed as a • DE – semi and unskilled manual media consumer using demographic categories? Psychographics • A system for measuring consumers’ beliefs, opinions and interests. • Instead of counting age/gender/race it focuses on opinions on issues, religious beliefs, musical tastes, personality characteristics etc. • These are also called IAO variables (Interests, Attitudes and Opinions) • Research into audiences usually combines both demographics and psychographics. Youth Facts case study • Page 62 Advertising companies claim they can segment audiences on the basis of ‘socio-economic values’ such as: • Survivors Those who want security and like routine • Social Climbers Those who have a strong materialistic drive and like status symbols • Care Givers Those who believe in ‘caring and sharing’ • Explorers Those for whom personal growth and influencing social change are important These socio-economic groups are based on the work of the American Maslow and his idea of a Psychologist Abraham ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ (1954) • layers of needs • satisfy one before moving on to the next • we all start at the bottom of Maslow’s Hierarchy • Maslow argues that many people stop at particular levels and never reach the top – self-actualisation • the unsatisfied needs are what motivate our behaviour • Maslow stated that the hierarchy was dynamic and reversible; the needs are not necessarily present in the same order in everyone • the audience is ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1954) The need to succeed, to become what you wish to become Self esteem, status, respect and admiration of others The need to belong to a group Job security, friends Which of Maslow’s needs do you think are being fulfilled in this advertisement? Hypodermic Needle Theory The Hypodermic Needle theory suggests that the media ‘inject’ ideas into a passive audience, like giving a patient a drug. • Earliest academic studies of media audiences appeared in the 1920s and 1930s • The audience was seen as a ‘mass’ audience all consuming the same product and receiving the same ‘mass’ message • Propaganda • View reinforced by Orson Welles’s The War of the Worlds’ broadcast on American radio in 1938 • Are we too sophisticated today? Ghostwatch – Halloween 1992 • Advertisers took the ‘hard sell’ approach – repeating the message often and loudly Uses and Gratifications Theory Research then led to a view that audiences weren’t passive and a ‘mass’ but were composed of different social groups. The audience was now being seen as playing an active role in the interpretation of the media of particular media texts. Audience now considered to be active instead of passive The audience has a set of needs (Blumler and Katz 1975) •Diversion •Integration & Social Interaction •Personal identity •Surveillance/Information Gratification 1) SURVEILLANCE/INFORMATION • We want to find out about society and the world. Gratification 2) INTEGRATION & SOCIAL INTERACTION • Companionship through identification with television characters • We want to find out more about the circumstances of other people so we can empathise/sympathise with the lives of others. • Sociability through discussion about television with other people. Gratification 3) PERSONAL IDENTITY • Finding reinforcement for personal values. • Identifying with a valued other in the media. • Gaining insight into one’s self. Gratification 4) DIVERSION • We use the media for enjoyment, relaxation or just to fill time. Audience Interaction • Audiences are often given the opportunity to interact with media texts. • Voting on a reality TV show • Emailing an opinion • Writing a letter to a local paper • Taking part in a radio phone in • Requesting a song • Participating on makeover programmes Key Questions to ask... • To whom is the text addressed? What is the target audience? • What assumptions about the audience’s characteristics are implicit within the text? • What assumptions about the audience are implicit in the text’s scheduling or positioning? • In what conditions is the audience likely to receive the text? Does this impact upon the formal characteristics of the text? • What do you know or can you assume about the likely size and constituency of the audience? • What are the probable and possible audience readings of the text? • How do you, as an audience member, read and evaluate the text? To what extent is your reading and evaluation influenced by your age/gender/background etc? **Key terms** • Uses and Gratifications Theory • Hypodermic Needle Theory • Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • Niche Audience • Demographics Read pages • Psychographics 268 – 283. Add to your notes. Working as a group… Imagine that you have been asked by a film company to provide the outline for a new film aimed at audiences between 18 and 25. Draw up an outline that includes: • The main situation/narrative of story and its dramatic potential • Descriptions of the main characters • Ideas for 2 or 3 settings, explaining their visual impact, the reasons for using them and any technical difficulties that they may present. • The opening sequence of the film, explaining how it will attract the audience’s attention. • Explain the ways in which the film will appeal to its target audience. • Suggest ways in which the film could be marketed.
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