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Media Theories

In this report, I will be talking about the positive and negative effects of
the four different media theories. However, before I begin, it is important
to understand what a media text is and what it is used for in terms of
target audience.
A media text is any product that we wish to examine, this could range
from a television show, a book, magazine or poster ect. Us an audience,
we should understand the denotative meaning behind any media text, if
you watch a Scooby doo, we know that it is a cartoon primarily made for
children around 10 years old. Anyone who chooses to examine a media
text, is a member of audience, whether thats from reading a book or
watching a movie. It may sound straightforward but many, media texts
can be deconstructed and there are many theories as to why texts are
made to suit a certain audience and why not. Media texts are designed to
produce audiences, which are then sold to advertisers.
Some theories have questioned whether the actual audience is the same
as the intended audience. For example, Starwars was originally intended
for a young audience, but in actual fact, their prime audience are adults.
This is term commonly known as media decoding, in which different
audiences have different reactions to the same text because of age,
gender, social class, ethic group, and lifestyle ect. A media text may seem
like it gains the same reaction from everyone, but other audiences may
examine the text and have a different reaction from the creators intended

Hypodermic Needle
The hypodermic needle theory, commonly known as the as the magic
bullet theory implies that mass media texts have a direct, powerful and
immediate effect on its audiences. Several factors have contributed to this
theory for example, in the 1940s and 50s there was a fast rise and
popularization with tv and radio. I think because it was a new thing for the
world, we as a union were easily lead to believe what was true and if it
impacted one person, it was going to impact the rest. This was also round
the time people were advertising their beliefs about propaganda, through
the emergence of the persuasion industries.
The Hypodermic needle theory suggests that mass media could influence
a great amount of people by injecting or shooting them with particular
messages designed to trigger a certain response. Expressing the view that
media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea to the viewer
because the audience are seen as powerless to resist the power of impact.
This in turn, encourages the idea that people end up thinking what they
are told because there is no other source of information.
An example of the hypodermic needle was in 1938, the radio
dramatization of the science fiction novel war of the worlds by HG Wells
was performed like a contemporary new broadcast, a technique that
hadnt yet been used. It was full of dramatic effects, which were used to
heighten realism. However, it was accounted that every 40 minutes some
listeners actually believed that it was in fact real account of an invasion
from Mars, heading to the roads, hid in their homes, and loaded their
weapons in an attempt to hide themselves from the supposed immanent
This theory, although effected masses of people, also had some strengths
and weaknesses. Some strengths are the idea that it reaches to so many
people, it is considered an effective and reliable way of seeing trends. The
effect studies often involve a large amount of participants and sometimes
extend over a long period. However, the theory is considered quite weak
in todays society, nowadays, audiences are much more sophisticated and
educated when it comes to mass media. Too simplistic, changes to
audiences and beliefs are not always observable or easily measured in the
way physics; changes are. Audiences interpret media differently.

Uses and Gratifications Theory

This is the theory that explains of how people use media for their uses and
gratification. In other words what people do with the media. However,
some commentators have argued that uses and gratifications link in with
the effects of media much like the hypodermic needle, for example
thrillers are tend to generate the same response with the viewers.
The theory rose to attention by Bulmer and Katz in the 1970s. Bulmer &
Katz argued that audience needs have social and psychological origins,
which generate certain expectations about the mass media, leading to
differential patterns of media exposure, which result in both the
gratification of needs and in other unlikely consequences.
Their studies took to the viewing public on why they watched and examined
certain medias. For example, people who watched a certain TV Quiz show might
watch it to compete with other people watching it with them, to compare
themselves with the experts or like to imagine that they themselves are on the
program and doing well. These reasons fall into different categories such as self-
rating appeal, basis for social interaction, excitement appeal and educational
appeal. Its the braking down of reasons for wanting to watch something that
made uses and gratifications theory legitimate.
There are several criticisms that people have made over the U & G theory. The
first being the fact that it turns out as lot of viewers many not know why they
chose to watch what they did, or not be able to explain fully. People may give a
reason someone else has mentioned making U & G seem like a less reliable
theory. Such accounts over-emphasise informational purposes, because there is
evidence that TV viewing is often habitual, ritualistic and unselective. This theory
was proved by Barwise & Ehrenberg in 1988.

Reception Theory

Reception theory is the idea that producers or directors of media texts encode a
hidden message or meaning that they want to convey to the audience. This
could be done through character dialogue or continuity errors within the film by
actions or unusual objects.
A man named Stuart Hall identified three different ways in which hidden
meanings or messages are communicated to the viewer. The first being
dominant, which is when audience want to hear from people or agreeing with
the topic but having limited knowledge on the subject. An example of this are
debates and political speeches on matters such as improvements to NHS or
improving public transport. This is effective because it is what the audience
wants to be told.
The second audience meaning Hall identified was Negotiated. This when the
audience will either agree, disagree or question a media text. For example, a
news broadcast American Fox News has been seen in the past as biased with
their strong support to the Republican party.
The last audience meaning Hall identified was Oppositional. This is when the
audience will recognise the dominant meaning but rejects it due to a cultural or
political opinion. People actively reject a speech from an opposing political party
on any subject. As a result, viewers wont want to hear anything else or any
other message that is being conveyed on them as they have already made their
minds up on the subject.
Despite all the factors involved in a medias reception, reception theory does not
claim that a films meaning is entirely open. There are limits to the potential
meanings and interpretations that can be attached to a media text. Viewers are
constructed by their environment, and this affects and ultimately limits the way
in which they are able to view and understand certain texts.

Passive or Active Consumption

An active consumption is where audiences will engage and discuss media
messages and are able to question the media messages through life
experiences. Different people may have completely individual opinions and
questions, this way the audience wont be suggestible to tell them what they
think. Shows like Question Time and like to get both journalists and politicians
on the show to discuss worldly issues, the audience who ask questions can get
more active due to the deep discussions they have with the panel rather than
viewers watching at home. However the people who do tune in at home do have
the option do tweet with the panellists and create debates, making the home
audience less subjectable and more active.
A passive consumption is when the audience doesnt engage or question the
media message. Instead, they just except it, which is what media outlets want to
achieve when making a media text because they want people to examine to
view not to question. To get audiences into this story, it has to be believable; it
doesnt need to be realistic as that would make it boring.


unit 6 lo3 task 1



In-text: (Mediafort.wordpress.com, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Mediafort.wordpress.com. (2017). active and passive consumption | Media Fort. [online] Available at:

https://mediafort.wordpress.com/tag/active-and-passive-consumption/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

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Hypodermic Needle Theory

In-text: (AS, 2017)

Your Bibliography: AS, (2017). Hypodermic Needle Theory. [online] Slideshare.net. Available at:

https://www.slideshare.net/HannahCharlesMedia/hypodermic-needle-theory-29639628 [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].

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In-text: (Universiteit Twente, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Universiteit Twente. (2017). Mass Media | Hypodermic Needle Theory. [online] Available at:

https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Mass%20Media/Hypodermic_Needle_Theory/ [Accessed 14 Mar.


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In-text: (Medienabc.org, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Medienabc.org. (2017). Media Text. [online] Available at: http://www.medienabc.org/page5/page40/page40.html

[Accessed 14 Mar. 2017].

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In-text: (Media Fort, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Media Fort. (2017). Reception Theory. [online] Available at: https://mediafort.wordpress.com/2013/07/01/reception-

theory/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

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In-text: (Encyclopedia.com, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Encyclopedia.com. (2017). Reception Theory - Dictionary definition of Reception Theory | Encyclopedia.com: FREE

online dictionary. [online] Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/reception-theory

[Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

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In-text: (Visual-memory.co.uk, 2017)

Your Bibliography: Visual-memory.co.uk. (2017). Uses and Gratifications. [online] Available at: http://visual-

memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/short/usegrat.html [Accessed 28 Mar. 2017].

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