AUDIENCE. What is an audience?. The word audience implies a group, the people consuming the mass media, like cinema goers. Yet in media we often think of an audience as an individual, someone watching, listening or reading alone. Is this person still an audience?
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What is an audience? The word audience implies a group, the people consuming the mass media, like cinema goers. Yet in media we often think of an audience as an individual, someone watching, listening or reading alone. Is this person still an audience? Media audiences are characterised not only by their numbers but also by their membership of other groups such as their socio-economic, political and cultural background as well as, gender, race, demographic, age and so on. Each of these impact on the way audiences read texts. The orientation and degree of attention to a text is also an important aspect of audience study. Are the audience paying close attention or are they snogging in the back row of the cinema? Some audiences will consume more than one text at once. Audiences experience and understanding of a media text or form are important considerations media researchers and commentators take into account.
The theories of media we have just discussed have influenced the ways in which we think about audiences. Linear or Cultural Effects communication theories tended to consider media audiences as passive receivers of media messages. The term passive came to be confused between reception and behaviour. Audiences who were quietly consuming media texts were thought to be passive, their demeanour was taken as an indicator of acceptance of the media message. How many times have you been accused of veging out in front of the box? The fact is there is no such thing as a passive audience in relation to behaviour. Even audiences who are not paying attention to a text are not passive about it, they are choosing to not pay attention.
All theories of media influence and media research are underpinned by the notion of the audience. In fact everything you have studied and every product you have made over the past two years has had an understanding of audience as its starting point. What is important here is the role the audience plays in assessing the effects the media may or may not have. Consideration must also be given to the form of media used – is television more powerful at transmitting messages than radio?
Today’s social, economical and textual interpretation of media texts is much more sophisticated, audiences are seen as actively making meaning from their texts. Whilst the community still holds the view that some audiences are more susceptible to media influence than others, our understanding of this notion of susceptibility is tempered with our understanding of the context in which media texts are consumed.
Nature and Extent. • Nature - How is the audience affected by the media? By what method? This also refers to identifying what it is and it's particular characteristics (i.e. specific case studies). The nature of violence. • Extent - This concerns the effects the text can have on the audience. How much is the audience affected by the media? To a large or small degree?
Issues of Susceptibility on the Audience. • Who is suggested to most vulnerable? • What types of media are these groups exposed to? How much influence? • How different groups respond to texts. • Ages of particular vulnerability. • Some of the media is aimed at the very young. • Reception context and 'relationships' to texts - watching a scary film on your iPod with headphones on a train to watching the scary film in a darkened cinema. See page 84 in Media 2.
“Oh dear, I’ve fallen in a ditch!” -Thomas, aged 3 whilst watching Thomas the Tank Engine. The idea of passive and active audiences is from the notion that some audiences are more susceptible to media influence than others. Frequently children are the focus of concern because it is assumed that they do not have enough understanding of the media to differentiate between fact and fiction. Did Thomas think he was a tank engine. Of course not! When studying the relationship between the media and children consideration must be given to the intelligence of the child, viewing context, media experience and context of family and school. See page 86 Media 2
Researching Media Influence Much of the theories we have covered has been supported by research. The results of this research is often contradictory and the debates between researchers can be enthusiastic and even hostile.
When looking at the research we must: 1. Compare and contrast communication theories and models 2. Identify and describe key view points about the nature and extent of media influence. 3. Analyse arguments and evaluate evidence. 4. Relationships between audiences and a range of media forms and text. 5. Analyse the rationale for effectiveness of measures.
Audience Measurement • Ratings are the most common form of audience measurement . In Australia OZTAM is the official source for television audience measurement (TAM) data in Australia, covering all metro free to air networks and nationally for subscript (PAY) TV. OZTAM uses a range of techniques to determine a representative sample to homes in which to install People meters. • People meters record and store 4 pieces of information: time, TV set on/off, channel tuned & person viewing. • This data is transmitted to OZTAM for analysis. The output is an audience database – individual by individual, minute by minute data delivered overnight – 365 days of the year. For more info: www.oztam.com.au Ratings are also a measurement of data only, they cannot reveal whether a viewer is paying attention to a program, what they think about it or the influence a text might exert over an individual audience member. • Ratings do, however, indicate the media tastes and preferences of a community, which can be used in correlation with other data to determine how the media might influence community behaviour and opinion. • Whether an advertising campaign results in the increased sales of a product is one way ratings data can be used.
Understanding the research Quantitive research – • Research that is measurement based, it studies quantity, for example how many viewers watch a program, how often an audience tunes in to the radio etc. Quantitive research also includes measuring the reactions of participants to stimulus in laboratory experiments, statistical data collected via ratings/surveys/statistics/polls etc. Qualitative – • Research studies the quality of individual or group reactions to the media. Qualitative research seeks to understand the quality of audience interaction with the media, why audiences think and act as they do. The research incorporates culture, ethnicity etc. Forms of Qualitative researchinclude observation, surveys, interviews, focus group discussions and ethnographic research. Longitudinal research - long period of time (Tanis Macbeth Williams) Laboratory research - conducted in a lab (Bandura's Bobo Doll). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Anecdotal - personal stories etc Case Studies - "alleged" examples where the media may or may not have had influence.
Evaluating and Analysing Research From pg 93 Media 2: 1. Under what conditions were these tests conducted? Was the testing done within a realistic context? Were they held in a room that may have been unfamiliar and therefore intimidating to the subject (the person being tested)? Could this have influenced findings? 2. Are the subjects a representative of a ‘cross section’ of that population? How many were tested? What socio-economic background do they have? Could this influence the findings? 3. Were the subjects rewarded for certain behaviours or responses? Could this influence findings? 4. Was the study empirically tested (under control conditions)? Or is it based on anecdotal speculations 5. Do the results occur as a result of coincidence? Or are the results represented by a statistical average? 6. How Legitimate was the study? Who conducted it and where? 7. Is the parallel being drawn between the media and the influence a logical and supported claim? Continue pg 93 – 95 Media 2.
Issues - strengths, weakness and limitations. * What are the problems with measuring influence on audiences? *Difficulties in definition *Discrepancies on limits of testing and research *Parental control VS government regulation. *Remember all 'evidence' is inconclusive. Government - > blames media/audiences "unwilling to take responsibility" - Lee Burns (of Media- violence on screen).
The media is used for a range of purposes: Entertainment Catharsis Education Information • Not all people who use violent video games become violent. Japan, has the world's lowest crime rate.
Positives and Negatives Positive and negative effects on audiences • Understanding and evaluation of the arguments. • Research conducted • Positive and negative effects. • Case studies • Arguments from experts A media text – how the researchers would see this text. It is very easy to get caught up in the negatives of Media Influence such as Advertising focusing on body image and violence (films, video games etc) • But many years ago, advertisers realised the potential audience for television, and begun to produce campaigns that could deliver messages to promote social change such as the commercials for the anti-smoking campaign, (Cancer council) slip slop slap, TAC, work safe.
OUR CASE STUDIES case study/experiment/field study research into study (type of research) findings of research (results) strengths/weaknesses (positive/negative) Criticisms What theory supports this?
Positive– The Cancer Council • Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world and the Cancer council has been instrumental in using the media to campaign for Australians fight cancer and to raise awareness of prevention and detection. • The Cancer Council has become widely recognised for also using shock tactics and emotional ploys to project its anti-cancer message. • At the start of the CC’s campaign in 1976 with the character ‘Sid Seagul’ and the “Slip Slop Slap” slogan and even now with the more graphic campaigns now this would sit with the Reinforcement Theory. Research: • See page 88 of Media 2 for more info. • Fill out research table. http://www.cancer.org.au/Newsmedia/factsfigures.htm
TAC (Transport Accident Commission) Possibly the best known example of an Australian media campaign to instigate social change. • These advertisements have been on air in Victoria since 1989. • Known for their depiction of graphic road accidents and even more confronting aftermath, the nature of which had never before been portrayed to audiences in quite the same way. • Each advertisement typically depicts a realistic road accident , but also the human aspect of life changing tragedy and loss. • These ads were devised in response to the spiraling rise in road deaths throughout the State. • After they were evaluated and shown to be highly effective, the ads were also used in other Australian states, as well as overseas. It is also worthy to note that due to the success of this campaign other Government owned organisations have taken on this tactic such as the cancer council and the Anti-Smoking lobby. See page 89 in Media 2 & My Classes Fill out research table. Research: • http://www.tacsafety.com.au/jsp/content/NavigationController.do?areaID=13 • http://www.tacsafety.com.au/jsp/statistics/overview.do;jsessionid=MHKKHAPPGPEA?areaID=12
www.tacsafety.com.au Look under CAMPAIGNS – • Read the Overview • What are the main key points TAC focus on in their approach to their campaigns? • What statistics do they quote about the effect/ineffectiveness of these campaigns • What is there agenda when it comes to their campaigns? Research: Drink Driving & Speed campaigns Read the campaign history for both. • What are the key points (for each) you see as important to TAC in it’s advertising campaigns? • Why do you think the TAC do their campaigns in phases? Look at the Case Study and download the full case study for both. • What is the TYPE of research they used for these case studies? • What are the findings? • What are the strengths and/or weaknesses (if any) of this research? • Criticisms? • What theory does this fit into?
Anti Smoking Campaign With the success of the TAC ad campaign, the Government owned Cancer Council in conjunction with their own government funded QUIT campaign also sought more graphic and shocking tactics in their print, billboard and television advertisements in 2006. Like the TAC this was due to the spiraling cases of people diagnosed with smoking related illnesses. Also interesting to note that due to the spiraling number of cases being diagnosed this costs the Government $21 billion in social costs. Research: • http://www.quitnow.info.au/ • http://www.quit.org.au
www.quit.org.au/www.quitnow.com www.quit.org.au - Look under MEDIA & ADVERTISMENT – • Read the Overview, Media Releases, Backgrounders and TV advertisements. • What are the main key points QUIT focus on in their approach to their campaigns? • What statistics do they quote about the effect/ineffectiveness of these campaigns • What is their agenda when it comes to their campaigns? www.quitnow.com – look under GRAPHIC HEALTH WARNINGS & NATIONAL TOBACCO CAMPAIGN read each of the subheadings. • What are the main key points this site focuses on in their approach to their graphic campaigns and warnings on cigarette packaging (Why are they using this tactic? Rationale). • What statistics do they quote about the effectiveness of using graphic warnings on cigarette packaging/Print/TV advertising. • What is their agenda when it comes to their campaigns. • What are the key points (for each) you see as important to QUIT’s in it’s advertising campaigns? • What is the TYPE of research they used for these case studies? • What are the findings? • What are the strengths and/or weaknesses (if any) of this research? • Criticisms? • What theory does this fit into?
Bandura Bobo Doll Is the most famous an misrepresented example of social effects research claimed to demonstrate the influence of the media on audiences. Bandura, a Stanford Psychologist, experimented with children’s potential for imitating violent behaviour. • In his Bobo Doll experiments, children were made to view a film where people were exhibiting aggressive behaviour toward a Bobo Doll. The children were then taken into to another room to be observed as the children played with the toys. The children beat the dolls like they had seen on the film. • Bandura labeled this behaviour ‘modeling’ because the children were copying the behaviour they saw in the film. • Criticisms of Bandura’s experiment included the fact that the very purpose of a Bobo Doll is to be hit, that the experiment setting is artificial and therefore results cannot be generalised to a real life situation and the children are likely to give the responses that they think adults want. • The research did not take into account that in most media texts violence is not rewarded, that the perpetrators are punished. See page 96 Media 2 & Myclasses
Media Reporting Sept 11, 2001/Iraq war • While this case study is heavily an example of Agenda Setting Function, it is good to also look at how this case study also highlights the negativities of the Media – but ironically through the media. • An example obviously of this was during the Sept 11 attacks where video footage depicting distraught New Yorkers fleeing the burning buildings and interviews with distressed survivors pulled on the emotion and served Western society with a pro-American perspective • Read articles….. • www.outfoxxed.org -
Media Reporting – Sept 11/Iraq War. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_invasion_of_Iraq_media_coverage -Read Article. • What are the main key points this article highlights as the concerns over the Media’s coverage of Sept 11/Iraq War? • What is highlighted as their approach this coverage? • What statistics do they quote about the effect/ineffectiveness of this reporting. • What is their agenda when it comes to this reporting? www.outfoxxed.org Look under STUDIES and read the Documents and Studies particularly the FAIR articles. - but also browse rest of site. • What are the main key points this site focuses on in Fox Networks media reporting? • What do THEY SAY is the approach Fox News used in their coverage of Sept 11/Iraq War? • What statistics do they quote about the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of this style of reporting • What is their agenda when it comes to their campaigns. (Outfoxed site) • What do THEY believe is Fox News networks agenda? • What are the key points (for each) you see as important to the Media Reporting (Fox News) in their Media reporting? • What is the TYPE of research they used for these case studies? • What are the findings? • What are the strengths and/or weaknesses (if any) of this research? • Criticisms? • What theory does this fit into? Also read: External Links on Wiki article http://www.csicop.org/genx/terrorattack/
Violence in the Media Difficulties in assessing influence Does viewing these images distort our sense of violence? Are audiences becoming increasingly desensitised to screen violence? And what effect, if any, does watching violence have on audiences? There is much debate surrounding the effects of media violence on audiences – particularly children. Read page 90 Media 2. Desensitisation and catharsis Many people argue that the media is cultivating a society of violent desensitised people. Desensitised refers to the theory that continuous exposure to media violence, both implicit and explicit can result in audience members having reduced or no sensitivity to real violence. Read page 92 Media 2.
ALSO:Violence in the Media (Games) Computer games, the new menace on the block or just good fun? • Video or computer games have become the focus for much community concern in recent years. Are they as bad as people say? Much of the original research about computer games centered on their violent content, more recently research has looked at the social issues of computer games and the lives of gamers. Not surprisingly negative research has come from the same sources that research the negative influence of television and film. Positive research has been funded or reported by the gaming industry. Where does the truth lie? In the same place it does for all media forms, in the relationship between games, gamers and the social and economic framework in which both live. For more info: Entertainment Software association: www.theesa.com/esagaresearchupdateaug2003.htm The center for computer games research: http://game.itu.dk/ Games Research: www.game-research.com/default.asp Digiplay: www.digiplay.org.uk/index2.php
Different results same research topic. Craig Anderson, Kevin Durkin and Jefferey Brand are among the hundreds conducting research into the effects of videogames. Each is confident about the veracity of their results yet these results could not be more different. Examine the work of each to find out what they think and why • Craig Anderson: www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/ • Craig Anderson, Huesmann: www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/pspi/pspi4.pdf • Jeffrey Brand: www.diverseworlds.bond.edu.au • Kevin Durkin: www.oflc.gov.au/resources.htm?resource=302&filename=302.pdf
Other famous Quantitative experiments include (in relation to video games and violence): Eron, Feshbach and Singer, TannisMacBeth Williams, Gerbner, Berkowicz…. • The results of such studies are well documented and because of their research designs and claims to prove (usually negative) influence of the media over audiences, they are popular with those beliefs tend towards the media as a bad influence on individuals and society. • Links for more reading is on our Myclasses in the Media Influence section under research.
Comparing and evaluating communication theories and evidence Once we have investigated many different claims of influence and view points regarding the media’s effect on audiences, we can apply this knowledge to out understanding of communication theories. However, these theories are to be used as a ‘lens’ through which to evaluate allegations of influence – NOT as a method to distinguish conclusive evidence. Page 95 Media 2.
Regulation • If media is influential then what do we do? • Do people need protection from this? • Who needs protection? • How do we protect? • How effective are these measures?
Controlling content and influencing influence As part of Australian Media Organisations we looked at some of the organisations charged with the responsibility for regulating media content in Australia. • OFLC – • Free TV – • ACMA – • ASB – • Censorship – • Classification – • Self regulation – • Code of practice – • Government Legislation –
Government Legislation Question from last years exam paper. Explain: 1. The major debates about regulation and control of media content in Australia. 2. Some of the organisations, groups or individuals involved in the regulation of media content in Australia and the roles they perform. • www.acma.gov.au • www.oflc.gov.au • http://www.adstandards.com.au/pages/index.asp • http://www.freetv.com.au/ See also sheet given out in class.
Code of Practice – Free TV http://www.freetv.com.au/Content_Common/pg-Code-of-Practice.seo The content of free-to-air commercial television is regulated under the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice which has been developed by Free TV Australia and registered with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).The Code covers the matters prescribed in section 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act and other matters relating to program content that are of concern to the community including:• program classifications;• accuracy, fairness and respect for privacy in news and current affairs;• advertising time on television; and• placement of commercials and program promotions and complaints handling.The Code operates alongside the ACMA Standards which regulate children's programs and the Australian content of programs and advertisements.The Code attempts to balance and provide for the various and often conflicting interests of our diverse society in the delivery of commercial television services. It is the result of extensive consultation with Government advisory bodies, community interest groups and the public generally. The Code is reviewed every 3 years.
Code of Practice - OFLC www.oflc.gov.au • Go to right side menu and go to THE CODE. • Download the national classification code. • What are the 6 points of the classification code of films & games?
In Australia control over the media content is vested in the government and in a system of self regulation. This structure is based on three assumptions. • Some people in society need to be protected from harmful material • The media is powerful • Media organisations are large and profitable, as a result they have both rights and responsibilities.
One of the features of Australian government is the work of lobbyists. Media organisations and lobby groups feed the government departments and politicians with ideas and material in an attempt to influence regulatory codes and public service decision making. Sometimes this material is in response to a new media form such as the recent moral panics surrounding computer games, at other times it is in response to a decision by a department such as the OFLC. Like reclassifying Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban M instead of PG.
Now What?? • Be able to describe, compare and contrast each theory in detail • Describe key viewpoints about the nature and extent of media influence • Analyse arguments and evaluate evidence about the nature and extent of media influence • Discuss the relationship between audiences and a range of media forms and texts • Analyse reasons for and effectiveness of regulation of media • Discuss issues in assessing media influence