Communications Reading Notes
September 24 , 2012
-there is a crucial difference between this position and one that focuses on the direct effects of
media on audiences. Often, the discussion of media effects ignores living, breathing human
beings. People exist only as receptacles for media messages, passive individuals whose
behaviours and attitudes are the result of a powerful external force: the media.
-We prefer to think of audiences as active readers rather than passive recipients.
-We see the meaning of media texts as something that these active audiences construct rather
than something that is prefabricated by media producers.
-There are two good reasons for conceptualizing the audience in this way. First, it fits with our
own experiences as media consumers and as members of various audiences. Second, a large
body of recent research demonstrates that media audiences are active interpreters of media.
-Proponents of the active audience theory argue that media cannot tell people what to think or
how to behave in any direct way because people are not nearly as stupid, gullible, or easy to
dominate as the media indoctrination perspective would have us believe.
-There are three basic ways in which media audiences have been seen as active: through
individual interpretation of media products, through collective interpretation of media, and
through collective political action.
Interpretive: The meanings of media messages are not fixed; they are constructed by audience
Social Context of Interpretation: Audiences are active in the sense that they interpret media
messages socially. That is, audiences do not simply watch, read, or listen to a media text;
develop independent interpretations of what it means; and stick to them.
Collective Action: audiences sometimes organize collectively to make formal demands on
media producers or regulators. Whether they are outraged by the images they see in a popular
film, distressed by the exclusion of their points of view from the news, or concerned about the
advertising directed at their children, -
-audiences can engage in collective action to try to change media texts or media policies.
Agency and Polysemy: polysemy: to describe the notion of multiple meanings in media texts. - This view substitutes one oversimplified perspective (meaning is given) with an alternative
(meaning is entirely open) that suffers from the same basic flaw. In essence, this latter view is
all agencies and no structure. In disputing the notion that media texts have any meaning prior
to their interpretation, this view makes the texts themselves irrelevant. And in arguing that
interpretations are virtually limitless, this position neglects the social context in which we
experience and interpret media, the often familiar conventions that media representations use,
and the underlying patterns these interpretations have.
Structure and Interpretive Constraint: We are not simply “free” of constraints when we
experience media; we do not live in some electronic netherworld. We experience media as part
of daily life, not separate from it, and our lives unfold in specific social locations.
-As a result, meaning may be actively constructed by audiences, but in most cases, one
interpretation is likely to be most common and fit with the underlying values of the culture.
Decoding Media and Social Position: media products are often ideological in the sense that
they consistently promote certain messages over others. These ideological representations are
most powerful when they pervade the realm of “common sense”, such that competing
meanings are no longer even entertained.
Conclusion: This chapter has examined the ways in which audiences are active interpreters of
media messages. The central contribution of much audience research lies in its interest in
individual and collective forms of human agency. The active audience tradition has brought real
people back into focus in media research by exploring the interaction between people and
media texts and locating meaning in those interactions.
Although audiences are active, their activity is still subject to a variety of structural constraints.
The media messages themselves matter-even if they can have multiple meanings because they
make some interpretations more likely than others. The cultural tools that audiences bring to
the interpretation of media are not uniform; different people from different social locations will
not have the same resources at their command. By ordering the distribution of cultural tools,
social structure serves as a constraint on the process of meaning making.
Audiences, then, are active, but they are not fully autonomous; sociology of the media needs to
be sensitive to both the interpretive agency and the constraints of social structure. In the
1990s, audience research was particularly useful when it clarified the intersection of agency
and structure in the analysis of what media messages mean. Research that compares the
interpretive work of audiences from different social locations has been particularly helpful in
this regard. But what about the different kinds of media? Do the specific properties of a
medium affect this interpretive work? October 15 , 2012
Big box companies assign customers to a unique guest ID, which they can track
everything they buy, and background information about that customer.
They try to convince you that you can buy everything you need at one store, and
therefore if you are just going in to get one thing, you may see something else that you
need and pick it up too. Eventually, you will end up buying everything at their store.
One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-
making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day, and recent discoveries
have begun to change everything from the way we think about dieting to how doctors
conceive treatments for anxiety, depression and addictions.
As we turn things into habits, we think less and less about it and in general.
Our brains create habit in three steps. 1. Cue. 2. The Routine. 3. The Reward.
Habits can be ignored, changed, and replaced.
October 29 , 2012
Journalism is traditionally seen as the work that professional journalists do for
newspapers, television, or other mass media.
“journalism cannot be defined by the technologies used to produce or distribute it,
who produces it, or the techniques used to produce it; rather, journalism is defined by
the function that news plays in people’s lives”
Journalism is the range of activities that are associated with making the news. It is“the
organized and public collection, processing and distribution of news and current