Blog #3 Jill Hamilton
After reading about the four theories outlined in these chapters, I find myself most interested in active audiences and the construction of meaning. I would love to learn more about this area of study because in the future, I hope to combine my interests in media and science to convey environmental issues to the public. I believe that how a message is conveyed to a larger audience is crucial for the success of an idea, and understanding how audiences interpret media messages are an important part of accomplishing this goal.
It is necessary to understand how the public interprets the media in order to predict the reaction that a certain media campaign will have: “Sometimes there will be a very close correspondence between the intended meaning and the ways a particular audience interprets the message” (Croteau, 258). The idea first arose that audiences are active “in opposition to the notion of all-encompassing domination” (Croteau, 256) – in other words, that the media has an all-empowering influence over society, and that individuals must take all information conveyed at face value. Once it is realized that audiences are in fact very active, with the ability to intelligently consider and interact with media messages, the conversation surrounding the construction of meaning becomes far more complex and relevant. Audience activity can determine how successful a media pursuit will be, and can also result in surprising success in a political or social movement in society.
From public protests to lobbying and publicity campaigns, the “collective action” of an audience can make or break a media platform. The number of people in society that experience media on a daily basis is huge, and the unpredictable nature of human behavior often makes it hard to determine the outcome of how a message will be conveyed. While some attempts fail, it is also possible for the media have an enormously positive effect on a population. Pepsi, for example, has started the “Refresh” project, which promotes wellbeing in society through audience interaction. Individuals can submit videos of what they want to change in their community, and Pepsi selects a few each year to support. The “Refresh” campaign connects the image of Pepsi to a benevolent cause, and promotes their product at the same time. By targeting what an audience will support, Pepsi has advertised their name and positively influenced society.
While I am definitely the most interested in active audiences and the construction of meaning theory, it is also important to consider how the other three theories play into the success of the media as a whole. Media effects on individuals teaches us how visuals and images can enhance an image or specific message, and culturally, media ecology can inform us how to adjust a message so that it applies to different individuals. I hope to draw upon these other approaches when considering active audiences.