The media effects model (also called the hypodermic needle model) of assessing the impacts of media on the audience has been outdated since it lays many limitations. The model is taken with less seriousness in the current world since it is seen as a very crude and arguably too simple to hold any weight. For this reason, the model has been neglected in many media studies and is no longer being applied (Chua lecture 3). Some of the major reasons as to why the model has been neglected shall be discussed in the following essay. Afterward, a better approach in media studies will be discussed which would be expected to yield more productive results of studying media.
Firstly, the thesis on which the media affects model is based: that mass media convey direct and possibly predictable effects upon peoples behavior are determined is far-fetched especially since the model only offers a shallow explanation about the effects. In other words, the model fails to acknowledge the major relational and contextual complexities associated with the ultimate consequences of the media on its audience. Secondly, the model assumes that the media is the only factor which determines the instabilities and/or stabilities of the social world of today. However, this is certainly a huge misconception since many other environmental, political and economic factors determine the nature (stabilities and instabilities) of the social environment today. The effect the media has on the audience is totally contextual, and many other factors contribute to the audiences effects resulting in any social composition (Chua lecture 3).
Thirdly, the model is deterministic and reductive since it only focuses on the negativity of the media and links these negativities directly to the resulting behaviors of its audience. This is however not right since the media also bears other positive impacts on the audience and further if the media conveys any theme to the society, it does not necessarily mean that the audience will embrace the theme. In other words, there is an aspect of free will that the model neglects. Fourthly, the media effects model is biased in that it assumes that the young generation is the most influenced set of audience. In this case, the model takes the young audience as naive and easily coerced into doing negative activities following mere incitation from the media. This is a biased approach since it only assumes the vulnerability of specific audience to medias effects. The fact is, all the media audience regardless of age is equally affected by the media in the same way (Chua Lecture 3).
Lastly, the media effects model fails to consider the major and true meanings that are related to the texts used by the media. Logically, any piece of text (message) conveyed by the media has a shallow and deep meaning. It is the deep meaning and the contextual meaning that matters and the media effects model fails to acknowledge these meanings (Chua lecture 3). For this reason, this essay proposes the use of the textual analysis model as an approach to assessing the effects of the media on the audience. In this case, the analysis is majorly hinged on the analysis of the media texts as used by media groups which means that the meaning and the context of the media text will be widely focused on.
The text analysis approach greatly hinges around semiotics which refers to the consideration of text as a set of signs which convey a certain meaning (Williams 155). For instance, semiotics has two main elements: The signifier, which incorporates the aspects of a message that are can be perceived physically and the signified, which refers to the message perceived mentally by the target audience and the culture which is mainly dependent on common language used and understood by that specific audience (Williams 156). The major argument in this case, therefore, is that there lacks intrinsic or obvious interconnection between the what a piece of text looks like and what the text represents. In this case, the signs are conveyed as a set of codes which have specific meanings based on the culture of the target audience and are the codes can be taken as symbols which signify specific ideologies, connotations, myths, and denotations (Chua lecture 2). Therefore the codes determine the correct deep meaning of the text used by a given media and can thus the meaning can be related to the audiences reactions or responses to a given media message.
Notably, a range of symbols is referred to as a paradigm which mainly constitute of metaphors and are combined to give a whole meaningful message which is referred to as a syntagm and essentially constitutes metonyms (Chua lecture 2). Consequently, text analysis entails the use of what the text or codes signify about the cultural values reflected in the codes. In this case, there exists the literal meaning of the text (denotation) and the ultimate motive or response the meaning induces into the community based targeted audiences culture. To put it more precisely, the denotations depict the natural meaning common to a given culture which conveys a specific audience to the audience in questions. Subsequently, this meaning induces a certain connotation; value-system of the audiences culture which establishes the actions done by the audience based on the media's message. In addition to the value-system, the connotations are based on the cultural norms wherein the cultural myths play a significant role in enacting the cultural action by the audience.
To sum it all up, the text analysis approach is mainly hinged on the fact that each message from the media is conveyed through a set of text which ought to have a specific ideology and hegemonic/normalization of the cultural set of meanings. Also, it incorporates values, which if accepted by the target audience, mostly unconsciously, they result in definite actions of the audience. Studying these pieces of, therefore, the text helps establish a whole range of effects of the media on the target audience.
Chua, Collin. Media texts, media effects. 2016: Lecture 2
Chua, Collin. Media effects model. 2016: Lecture 3
Williams, Kevin. Understanding Media Theory. London: Arnold, 2003. Print. 145-164
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