Adorno and Horkheimer argue that the culture industry “impedes the development of autonomous, independent individuals who judge and decide consciously for themselves” (Adorno, 1991, p.6). This section will discuss how this perspective has influenced the field of audience research. Adorno and Horkheimer argue that individuals are fed information through the media that makes them forget about independent thoughts and views that they might want to make.
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The view proposes that the media present consistent information which has been presented in a manner that ensures people feel that everything is proceeding on well without hitches even when this is not the case. Adorno felt that individuals in the society usually have to sacrifice their own beliefs which they believe so that they can agree with the beliefs of the society, especially those that are perpetuated by the media.
Audience research usually targets a specific group of individuals so as to find out what their interests, tastes, attitudes and knowledge might be concerning a particular item. Using such audience research, companies can usually be able to market and target their products or services towards a specific group of people so as to get maximum returns for their business ventures.
According to Adorno and Horkheimer, the society has agreed to sacrifice their own beliefs and judgments so that it can fit into the views and perceptions of the media about certain cultures. If the confusion in the society translates to trying to fit in into the society, then individuals would answer questions in audience research in a manner that would be expected of the individuals of that particular culture and might not genuinely reflect the true beliefs of such individuals.
The media has a very strong on individuals in the community and almost every person in the individual wants to ensure that they are perceived in the “correct” manner in the society. Therefore, when field researches are conducted, the researchers already have preconceived ideas about how the respondents should answer and this might interfere with the results of the researcher.
The researchers are bound to be biased towards giving the politically, academically and economically correct answers that are expected of certain cultural groups that might be involved in the interview processes for the audience research. This concept is in agreement with the impediment of self-awareness of culture, individuals and free thoughts of individuals and conscious decisions made by individuals in the society according to Adorno and Horkheimer.
In this section, I will discuss the public service broadcasting and commercial broadcasting in the UK, focusing on the characteristics of their funding system and differences in their relationship with audience in terms of their programming and scheduling.
The major difference between public service broadcasting and commercial broadcasting in the United Kingdom is that the public service broadcasting is funded and regulated by the government. The commercial broadcasting system is funded through advertisements from private companies that want to reach a large number of individuals.
The more audience that a particular television has, the better and higher the number of private companies that are likely to approach such companies because the advertising message from such a company is likely to reach a wider audience translating to higher sales. The public service broadcasting service allege that the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is owned by the government and is made freely available to individuals.
In contrast, the commercial broadcasting corporations in the country are privately owned and some of them require people to pay subscription fees to access their services. The public service broadcasting systems promote the agenda of the government with the interest of the larger public in mind while the agenda of the commercial broadcasting companies is promoted which might be the agenda of a few rich people who own and control the company or the advertisers who control the resources of the broadcasting company.
Most of the programming in public service broadcasting is usually educational or news on all areas that affect the citizens of the country are; political, health, financial and weather. Such public services are watched by individuals to receive reliable news on events that are happening across the country and all over the globe.
Most of the commercial broadcasting stations in the United Kingdom usually air programs that attract a wide audience such as soap operas, sports shows and fashion news. Broadcasting news that is highly preferred by many individuals ensures that the commercial companies get a wide audience.
If research indicates that commercial broadcasting companies have high ratings in terms of audiences, such commercial companies are highly likely to get business in form of advertising companies to pay the commercial stations so that they can air adverts and try to increase market share for such companies in comparison to competitors.
The third question will Outline and evaluate the media effects model of audience research. Using the concept of the active audience I will use contemporary media examples to illustrate the argument.
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The media effects model of audience research proposes that individuals are passive members of the advertisements process whereby, they get information that is transmitted by the media and offer no resistance in form of question or arguing with what is communicated to them through the media.
The media effects model of audience research proposes that the target audiences are manipulated to do what the advertisers want without taking into account the opinions, intelligence or decisions of the audience. Proponents of the media effects model claim that it is efficient and that most audiences are composed of passive individuals that want to be told what they should do or the kinds of products that they should consume.
Due to hero effects that are observed among individuals, the media usually uses selected individuals that the population respects such as respected musicians, sports players or Nobel Prize winners to endorse products so that audiences can get validations of the products or services that consumers want to purchase.
To some extent, the media effect model seems to be true after observing the high number of overweight teenagers that spend almost most of their time watching music shows and young girls that want to starve themselves thin so that they can appear like their favorite musicians on the television. Most of these children also want to dress like the celebrities that they observe on the television and they also want to eat the foods that are advertised on the television.
In contrast, the active audience model proposes the argument that audiences are different. The media fails to take into account the differences between individuals, such as differences in age, gender, economic and social differences among people. The media also fails in their assumption that people will perceive the intended message in the way that the media intends for it to be perceived by the particular target audience.
The medical drama grey’s anatomy has a female lead actor which is unlike the message that is usually portrayed by the media that males are greater achievers in the society in comparison to the men. The program also portrays the characters in the television drama as having flaws which is unacceptable. The pre-modern period portrayed most of the characters in television programs as being perfect which is unrealistic.
The fourth question evaluates Stuart Hall’s (1981) encoding/decoding model and the idea of polysemic texts. One media example will be anlysed to illustrate the role of audiences play in meaning-making.
Hall is famous for having introduced the concept that not all of the intended message will be taken by the audience. This is because everyone has different views based on their social, economic, cultural, religious and economic backgrounds and all of these play a part in decision making and translation for audiences that observe the media.
Hall made clear observations that the meaning of the media message is not necessarily determined by the individual that sends it because people perceive different things in different ways. He also proposed that most media representatives do not know what they mean to pass on to the audience.
Most of the time, the intended message is usually “hidden” and it is up to the audience to decode the message and utilize the meaning. Hall finally proposed that audiences for whom the messages are usually intended are active listeners that think, analyze and make conscious decisions from what they observe from the media.
The producer of the message portrayed in the media is usually the encoder while the audience is usually the decoder. Polysemic texts usually involve encoding and decoding whereby, the producer usually has an intended message for the audience and the audience decodes the message in a particular manner depending on their perception, tastes, likes and preferences. An example of a message in the media involving encoding and decoding would be a documentary on married women that are battered by their husbands.
The producer’s main goal would be to show how women are in bad situations while in their marriages, but the decoder who is the active audience might not sympathize with the women and instead feel that it is the women’s fault that they experience such abuse because they have the ability to get out of abusive relationships. Although the encoder might show valid reasons as to why the women stayed in the marriages, such as lack of an income to take care of young children and the audience might not understand.
The fifth question will critically discuss the news and agenda setting theory, using an example and three news stories. The issue of the news and the agenda-setting in the media is very important as it determines what is aired in the media.
The media has a very important responsibility in the society because it has the power to shape or change the attitudes of people about certain factors in the community. Agenda setting also influences social, economic, political and academic aspects of citizens of a nation because it drives the setting of the agenda for corporate, government and personal policies. News that are aired on stations or printed in different types of media and should abide by set rules.
Media organizations usually belong to regulating bodies which have certain rules whose failure to follow should attract penalties or disciplinary measures such as being taken off air for radio or television stations that air pornographic content. Forming of agenda-setting involves analyzing the kind of media outlets that people subscribe to and forming ways through which the intended news can reach those individuals.
The media can transmit news that easily influences the public through in a certain way. The individuals could already have an opinion about an issue that is on the news, but framing of the issue by the media stimulates the public to think about the issue further and in a way that affects the public.
For example, a newspaper might print a story that would influence a public debate and make the public pressure the government to act on a neglected issue in a country. The aspects that the media focuses on give the public the impression that those are the important issue in the local, regional and international scene.
Therefore, media houses should ensure that they are professional and gain the respect of individuals if they want the news that they air or print to be considered relevant in the lives of individuals. An example of agenda-setting would be the Bill Clinton case who was the president of the United States who had an affair with one of his staff members. The issue was aired on all television stations and pictures of the former president and Monica Lewinsky were in pages of newspapers all over the world.
This made the public feel that this was an important issue in the world. The issue of the terrorist attacks on September 11 in the United States was all over the news which made people focus on the issue and may be even think about probable terror attacks elsewhere. The issue of president Barrack Obama getting into power as the first African American president of the United States of America was all over the news, which made it an issue to focus on.