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The Relationship between Media and Audiences (Research Paper Sample)


Pick one of the following essays to answer:
1) What is a ‘counter myth’? Draw on your own case study to answer the question.
2) How does the encoding/decoding model help us to understand how meaning is created through media?
3) How does genre shape our understandings and expectations of media?
4) How does cultural work shape social inequalities?
5) How can we understand the relationship between media and audiences?
Please ensure that you have an introduction, main body, and conclusion for your essay.
Please ensure that you include a reference list and you use the Harvard referencing system.
Please engage with at least five academic texts in your essay.
You will be marked on understanding, originality, ability to develop an argument/solution/evaluation/explanation, use of literature/theories and communication.
You will be offered further guidance in your lectures.


Relationship between Media and Audiences
Advancement in technology and the subsequent convergence of digital media has resulted in a revolution in the contemporary society regarding how audiences communicate and the media pass information to them. The revolution has in turn affected the contents and structures of the various media platforms. The convergence of information and communication technologies has caused the emergence of new channels of communication, making it possible for audiences and journalists to establish positive and equal relationships that never existed before. Contrary to the current state, media and journalists in the 20th century occupied a higher and more power position that the audience. During the period, media houses such as radio and film would produce information that would greatly influence the recipients. However, the relationship between media and audiences has continued to evolve, shifting the latter from passive recipients of information to active participants in information creation and sharing. The emergence of digital media has therefore resulted in new power relations in relation to communication processes. The 21st century has seen a significant transformation in journalistic communication with audiences. The relationship between the audience (who are now are now referred to as users) and journalists (who are now more than ever subject to public scrutiny) has shifted from unidirectional to egalitarian and bidirectional. Moreover, as digital media continues to evolve, the term audience becomes outdated and other terms such as produser or prosumer are born. Thes latter refer consumers who have also turned to be active participants in the production of content on different social media sites. The relationship between media and audiences can therefore be described as a transformational one that has kept changing since the advent of media in the past centuries when the media had total influence on the audience to the current era where the audience has equal power with the media due to the emergence of social networking sites.
The Relationship between Media and Audiences
In media studies, audiences are among the most contested group. The definition of the term audience differs from one form of media to another. Furthermore, the nature of audiences has been changing since the era of traditional media such as newspapers to the present era that is defined by the advent of digital media. For the television producer, journalist, filmmaker, or newspaper producer, the audience is the group of people for whom the communication occurs. In oral cultures, the audience had to be present to receive information. However, the development of new technology has saved the audience of space and time as they can watch or read information at their chosen time. Therefore, audiences have specific descriptions depending on the type of media and form which the information is delivered. Audiences are a group of spectators within public events, viewers in motion picture cinema halls, internet users in the case of social media platforms, television viewers, and readers in the case of print media. The relationship between media and audiences therefore varies depending on the type of audiences for whom the information is produced.
Since the audiences consume information produced by the media houses, the latter has the power influence the emotions, feelings, actions and relationships among them. Media has the ability to arouse mixed physiological, psychological and emotional reactions among audiences. Multiple studies have been performed to determine the impact of latest digital technologies on the behaviors, emotional states and identities of youths and adolescents in the contemporary world. Social media sites place their audiences in a powerless situation in relation to the content they generate. Much of the information on such sites easily generates the elements of depression, loss of identity, addiction and sexual destruction. Even though the information on most platforms is controlled, audiences are able to read content and view videos that pressure them to engage in otherwise immoral behaviors. For instance, media sites that air sexual content are likely to influence adolescents to start engaging in such behavior (Elsayed, 2021). According to the Hypodermic needle theory, audiences are passive recipients of information produced by the media. Consequently, the media is in a more powerful position to influence their thoughts, behaviors and emotions through the information it injects in them.
During the 20th century, the audience of media content mainly comprised of viewers of moving image pictures and readers of print media. In the 1980s, the audience was placed into groups depending on their sociohistorical contexts. In a study carried out by Morley (1980), he found that there are three categories of audiences including the dominant readers, negotiated readers and oppositional readers. In the dominant reading group, the reader shares the attitudes, assumptions, beliefs, and values of the program or media information and accepts the program’s preferred readings. In the negotiated reading group, readers partly share the program’s code but changes it to match their interests and position. Lastly, oppositional audiences are those that do not share the beliefs and assumptions of the program hence develop their own interpretation of the reading. Morley therefore concluded that members of a certain group that shares similar cultural beliefs will have the same interpretation of a message from a given media. For instance, in a Newspaper that writes about trade unions, anti-trade unionist members will interpret the message differently from those who support trade unions. Therefore, audiences in the 20th century can be said to have been reliant on their sociohistorical beliefs in decoding information from media programs.
Further, media in the 20th century had more power on its audience as compared to the media in the 21st century. Since the turn of the 20th century, the media, including press, film and radio were believed to have great influence over the audience. For instance, during World War I and II, media was used to unite people and motivate them to participate in war. Moreover, Laswell (1927) explains the ways in which the government used mass media to spread propaganda and influence masses into taking action during periods of social movements. In one of the articles published in “The Boston Daily Globe” in the 1930s, the author reveals how a simple radio play would terrify an entire nation. In another newspaper, the title, “fake radio war stirs terror in the US” appears on the front page. The two newspapers reveal how much influence and power the media had over masses. A simple message on radio or in the newspapers was able to push the public into performing an act. Further, information produced by media would easily terrorize or terrify the public without question.
However, as the media continues to revolve and new technology is formed, the relationship between media and audiences has changed. Unlike in the previous years where the media had power on the audience, the current digital media has resulted in a high level of interactivity and participation among the audience. User engagement on social networking sites has led to the production of User Generated Content (UCG) which results in the development of new business models within media companies. Social media platforms facilitate engagement between journalists and users (audience). Features such as the presence of online forums, the ability to access online activities, and the presence of real time statistics regarding current engagements place much pressure on journalists to be constantly in conversation with audiences (Wu, 2018). The audience plays the role of critiquing, commenting, lauding and appreciating the work of journalists. On the other hand, journalists spend much of their time responding to user concerns, addressing their needs and producing content that matches their needs. The users therefore play a critical role in developing the content that journalists present to them.
According to the perspectives of the audience, engagement results in an emotional connection between the journalists and users. Engagement can be defined as the activities involved in commenting, reposting, blogging, rating, liking and ranking content on social networking sites. Engagement, which entails a series of layered and complex mix of representation and interpretation is reshaped through the various types of audience opinions and commentary. One of form of engagement involves the creation of User Generated Content. This type of engagement is an indicator, proxy, and a result of journalist-user communication. Still, development of UGC is also a form of user engagement. Audiences involve emotions, belief systems, values and attitudes in their commentary during their engagement with journalists and content producers.
The realization of the impact of the audience on the content generated by media companies has prompted the latter to use social media’s participatory features to expand the options and abilities of the audience to comment, disseminate and produce journalist-related content. Further, media houses have given audiences the ability to develop direct relationships with newsrooms to enable them to contribute actively to aired information. Another impact of social media engagement is the emergence of worldwide social movements emanating from the network

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