Home > Uncategorized > Blog #4: Media Theories

Blog #4: Media Theories

The most compelling theory to me is the active audience theory because I find it to be one of the most important and realistic theories. Often times, the audience is viewed as passive and unresponsive. This grabbed my attention because I had never really thought about this before. When I talk about media and the audience, I often think of the audience as an unreceptive group of people, or a group that unanimously understands the media in the same way. However, the idea of an active audience thinks of “audiences as active readers rather than passive recipients” (256), which I believe is more accurate and true to reality. There are three ways that audiences have played a more dynamic role in media. Those ways are “through individual interpretation of media products, through collective interpretation of media, and through collective political action” (257).

Individual interpretation of media is the way in which an audience member understands a message given off from media. Although it may seem like some media messages are clear-cut, not all are. Everyone thinks differently, and therefore, interprets the media in different ways. It’s important for producers to know that “there is no guarantee that producers will get their message across in the ways they want” (258). The varying backgrounds and knowledge of the audience may alter what the producer was intending to say.

Collective interpretation of media is the idea that audiences “interpret media messages socially” (258). I also found this very interesting because I have never really thought about it before. I almost always watch movies or tv shows with someone else and often discuss what happened on the last episode of some tv show with my friends. It’s interesting to notice how much media takes a role in one’s social life. The idea that a large part of media takes place socially further proves “that audiences are far from passive” (258).

Collective political action is the idea that the audience will come together to try to alter parts of the media. Not only do these groups strive to change the media, they are able to “produce and distribute independent media” (259). Audiences that seek to alter the media and create new media and new ideas are clearly an active audience.

The active audience theory compensates for the idea that most of the time, the “discussion of media effects ignores living, breathing human beings” (255). The audience is viewed as a passive individual when really, we are not always mindless listeners. This theory gives the audience a louder voice and ability to play an active role in the media.

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  1. Kathleen
    October 22, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Nice discussion of active audience, Nicole. Though it is more often referred to in terms of which theories assume an active audience it is a theory in its own right and you provided a good analysis of it. Thanks!

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