hAbstract: This essay explores what the media, mass media and mass communication is. As well as a major focus on the hypodermic needle theory also known as the magic bullet theory on the reception analysis, the passive audience and the encoding and decoding model with reference to relevant theorists and statements and examples from Africa and other countries. In conclusion this essay states that the reception analysis and the hypodermic needle theory both are important and complex in understanding the media and the active and passive audience.
The hypodermic needle theory and the reception analysis is a complicated theory in the media world. These two theories explore how the media affects its audiences, both active and passive. This essay will explore through relevant examples and ideas from theorists, the hypodermic needle theory and the reception analysis, what they are and what role it plays in the media world and how the media affects the passive audience. The media is “a diverse collection of industries and practices, each with their methods of communication, specific business interests, constraints and audiences” (Briggs and Cobley, 2001 ;1). And mass media according to TheFreeDictionary is, “A means of public communication reaching a large audience.” The media is almost everywhere in societies today and people view or listen to so much types of media every single day. As a result the media that is taken in affects its viewers and listeners subconsciously and are not aware of the impact that the media has on them. Mass communication thus, is the “process of transforming a message created by a person in a group to large audiences or market through a transforming device which is the medium” (J.Baran, Introduction to Mass Communication). As Connell (1984 :88) says that it is common that media’s message is distorted and misunderstood by society. Thus it effects the society subconsciously buy the way they act. The audience plays a vital role in the media world, because if the audience did not exist neither would the media. (Hanes) The media sends out information to the audience and the audience is there to receive it. “Audiences are not blank sheets of paper on which media messages can be written; members of an audience will have prior attitudes and beliefs which will determine how effective media messages are.” (Abercrombie 1996, 140). Hence, the message received by the audience and how they interpret that message will depend on the background of the audience members, such as their values and beliefs, their attitudes and their circumstances. Furthermore, there are two types of audiences that are seen to take in media, the active audience and the passive audience. The active audience interacts with the media given to them, and they have the knowledge to challenge the messages that the media gives to them. The uses and gratifications model that was first expressed in the United states in the 1940s (Moores 1993) believed that audiences were active and that they had a choice as to the texts they received, and that they were able to choose the one that would satisfy their needs. The passive audience, as seen by the hypodermic needle theory just accept all the information given to them. “Passive audience an audience that does not interact with the media and...it has no control of the medias influence on them...” (Unknown. www.aber.ac.uk.). The hypodermic needle theory assumes that “the audience is passive in receiving and interpretation of media texts.” (Hanes, 2000). The media is seen to directly affect the passive audience and that it will have the power to directly influence the audience, because the audiences just take in and accept what the media gives to them. Children are often seen as a passive audience because they do not fully understand what they are viewing, thus are affected subconsciously and often act out what they have seen on TV. Teenagers often try to copy their celebrity role models and lose sight of...
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