Media has significant effect on the audience. Discuss

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Media has significant effect on the audience.
Mass Media according to McCullagh (2002) is simply the means through which content whether fact
or fiction is produced by organisations and transmitted to and received by an audience. McQuail
(2000) sees the mass media as of great significance in relation to culture and contends that the mass
media provide people with their image of `social reality' and that it expresses their `shared identity'.
Mass Media is the main `leisure time interest' in society and provides people with more of a `shared
government' than any other institution. In this essay, I am going to discuss whether media has a
significant effect on the audience.
Direct Theories are based on the view that the media does have an immediate and powerful influence
on their audience. Such theories see the audience as unable to resist media messages and believe that
these messages flow from the media directly through to the audience. A classic direct theory is the
`Hypodermic syringe model' which makes an analogy between media messages and a drug injected by
a hypodermic syringe. The medium which the means of mass communication (e.g. television, radio and
newspapers) is the syringe; the medium's message or content is what is injected. The audience is the
patient. This medical model of media influence is found in the titles of books. The concept of
narcotisation which refers to the political, physical and mental apathy supposedly induced by the mass
media also draws on this model. Therefore, according to the hypodermic syringe model, media does
have a significant effect on the audience.
This process was demonstrated by Bandura, Ross and Ross (1963) who conducted psychological
experiments which showed that film images are as effective in teaching aggression as real-life models
particularly in boys, who tended to imitate the postures, actions and words of film aggressors they
had seen. They have been concerns about the imitation of violence in the media have persisted and
scenes from particular films like Kill Bill, 300 and Natural Born Killers. Attractive film characters
behaving in particular ways and being rewarded for their behaviour tends to reinforce imitative
behaviour. This is known as the disinhibitory effect. This clearly shows that media have a significant
effect on the audience, in this case teenagers who are affected by media violence.
The hypodermic model is very popular. The mass media themselves tend to reproduce it when they
report crimes that were supposedly caused by the media. Politicians and campaigners against sex and
violence in the media also assume this model when they argue for greater censorship or complain
about particular programmes. Nonetheless, hypodermic models have been criticized firstly because the
model is unable to define what it means by `violence' or other behaviours that are supposedly
imitated. Secondly, audiences are highly diverse and have different responses. Thirdly, the imitative or
social learning model tends to concentrate on short-term effects only and ignores the cumulative
effects of exposure to many messages in the normal course of daily life. Fourthly, the model largely
fails to take into account the different `uses' audience members make of media content and the
different ways there are of interacting with the medium. The criticism proves that the media does not
have a very significant effect on the media.
Finally, the model ignores other media effects. Eysenck and Nias (1978) point out that media
messages may enable individuals to express and discharge powerful emotions safely, a process called

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The concept of
catharsis confirms that the media can have a direct effect but it challenges the fears that are founded
on such theories.
Traditional Marxists tend to agree with direct theories and see the effect of the media on audiences
and society as a one-way process that has the power to exert a significant influence. Marxists believe
that this power comes from having control of the economy.…read more

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The two-step model evidently demonstrates that the media does not
have a significant effect on the audience.
Livingstone and Bovill (2001) found evidence for the two-step flow model in their research and
found that use of the media with peers differs considerable according to country and some types of
media are more easily shared than others.…read more

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A person's subculture strongly influences
whether they accept, alter or reject the dominant meaning of a media message.
Fiske also believes that the media can promote diversity. This is evident in Postmodern views who see
the media as characterised by diversity and choice and offering a range of products. Audience can
create their own meaning from this. The media promote consumer culture where identities are in a
state of constant review and change and can be `picked and mixed' and remodelled.…read more

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In conclusion, theorists such as Marxism and Neo-Marxism argue that the media have a powerful and
immediate effect on audiences while Interpretivists see the effect as occurring over a longer period of
time such that it becomes part of the audience's ways of experiencing the world. Post-modernists
regard the media influence as beneficial to society and other who are concerned that the media have a
negative effect. Media does have significant effect on audiences because it is integrated in every
aspect of our lives.…read more


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