All forms of media such as films, newspapers and magazines, can be absorbed by audiences differently. Not all media consumers take in the information in the same way, and there are many audience theories to explain this.
The Hypodermic Needle Model theory This is an outdated of audience consumption. The audience is seen as a single mass that passively receive the messages of the text. It is argued that the media ‘inject` (hence the name) messages into the audience. Although this is perceived to be an over-simplified theory, it is true that the media can have a huge effect on people. People have been reported to be addicted to computer games and certain uses of the internet. Advertising is also acknowledged to be so powerful that products such as cigarettes have been banned from being advertised.
The Uses and Gratifications Model theory
This model emphasises what consumers of certain media products do with them. The power is considered to lie with the consumer, who is seen to use certain texts to gratify needs and interests.
According to some theorists, there are five main reasons as to why audiences consumed media texts. They are:
To be informed or educated
In order to identify with certain characters and/or situations
To be entertained
To enable themselves to socially interact with others
To escape their own troubles
The Influence Model theory
This model emphasises the less direct capacity of the media to influence perceptions. It recognises that people respond to other influences. Research by Stuart Hall found that rather than the autonomous individualised audience member of the uses and gratification model, that audience member shared certain frameworks of interpretation and that they work at decoding media texts within these frameworks. He proposed three types of audience reading:
Dominant- The reader recognises what the texts preferred meaning is and agrees with it
Oppositional-Where the dominant meaning is recognised but rejected
Negotiated-Where the reader accepts, rejects or refines elements of the text.
Re-mediating Audiences theory Recently, a new form of media has been introduced. Audience material, which is user generated content, is now very common. Audiences can now help create the media that was previously only in the hands of the institutions. Newsmakers, for example, insist on viewers to send material such as photos, videos and comments. Entertainment programmes such as talent shows put audience members in the spotlight. They also allow audience members to shape the texts by voting on who stays and goes. This is known as ‘prosumer`- consumers who produce media texts.