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Introducing Media Audiences

Steve Campsall | Tuesday December 07, 2010

Categories: Introductory Resources, Intro to Media Audiences

Ever since the mass media began in earnest with newspapers, magazines, cinema and radio way back in the early decades of last century and before, understanding just how an audience might or might not be affected by watching or ‘consuming’ what the media text presents has occupied the thoughts of many academics throughout the world.

It is what has led to media censorship, to the state taking control of the media in some countries, to the banning of the media in others and to aspects of the media such as ‘the watershed’. 

  • The following comic strip relies on the use stereotypical images – in fact it plays on the idea of stereotypes.
  • Just how do the stereotypes form? Try to create an answer that uses media terminology.
  • Why might it matter? What might be the results be of such a use of a stereotype?

The term moral panic is used to refer to an occasion when the media can whip up widespread concern for an issue – even to the point of hysteria in some people. Such panics still happen now and again and seem to offer perfect evidence for the ‘hypodermic syringe’ effects theories.

Many people today believe that the screening of certain sexual acts and extreme violence can work to ‘normalise’ these things in some viewer’s minds, perhaps especially younger viewers who do not have sufficient experience to reject what they see or to see it as pure fantasy with no place in reality. In a similar way, what was once an outlandish fashion item can become ‘normalised’ by frequent media exposure and become the latest craze to wear.

Such fears lead people to suggest that the media might be responsible for our more sexualised and aggressive society – and that it’s a risk we cannot afford to take. The infamous ‘Jamie Bulger’ murder case of 1993 raised similar concerns when it was learned that the two young child murderers had been watching a similar fictionalised murder in a film they had repeatedly been watching...


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