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Media Content

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by

Andy Ruddock

on 4 September 2014

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Transcript of Media Content

Media Content: Texts as 'cultural indicators'
Icon, index, symbol.
Describe this image's iconic, indexical and symbolic dimensions.
According to this blog post, which is the most important 'code' that explains the meaning and power of this image?
Case Study: Miley Cyrus and Discourses of Gender
Narrative, genre, discourse;
Meanings travel
across
different 'texts' and into everyday language.
Things you need to know about Gerbner and the violence profiles
Conclusion
Media texts help us explain how social reality is created
Qualitative and quantitative methods both engage with the concepts of signs, narratives and discourse.
Analysis of media texts must connect to the analysis of media industries and media audiences.
What are 'media texts'?
The role that symbolic communication plays in creating culture and society.
The way that this general process in human communication is developed in particular ways by media industries.
This is why it is useful to think of them as 'cultural indicators'.
George Gerbner used this phrase to reflect his view that media texts are important links in a chain of social communication now dominated by media industries.
'Cultural indicators' reminds us that texts have to be understood in relation to the societies and industries that make them, and the people who use them.
Key reading: Paul Hodkinson, "Media Texts", "Media, Culture, Society" (Sage, 2012).
Semiotics, narratives, genres: the world we live in exists through the meanings we give to it.
Myth and Discourse: The meanings we give to it decides the things that we do in it.
Cultural indicators; 'media texts' come out of and flow back in to industrial, political and cultural processes: we need systematic methods to explain how these processes work.
Read this
http://reelfoto.blogspot.com.au/2012/12/robert-capa-20th-century-war.html

Robert Capa's 'Falling Soldier', Spain, 1936
From Reality to Media reality
Now read this.

http://life.time.com/history/robert-capas-falling-soldier-the-modest-birth-of-an-iconic-picture/#

According to this account, what makes this photograph important?

What does this tell us about the relationship between media
texts
and media
industries
?
The point here is that photographs are symbols that can be used to represent political ideas that serve particular interests. Click below to read a short article on a recent example of this phenomenon.
https://theconversation.com/a-global-abomination-woolwich-and-the-politics-of-violent-images-14575

A short article on why this matters in the parts of the world that many of us don't see.
https://theconversation.com/i-am-a-girl-21st-century-lessons-from-1970s-feminism-23771

Example: Miley Cyrus, intertextuality and the real experiences of gender.
When Miley met the Insane Clown posse; intertextuality and the production of gendered language.
Insane Clown Posse Theatre: Fuse TV
Beavis and Butthead
Mystery Science Theatre
Questions:
What does this say about gender?
How are the meanings affected by intertexual links?

Discourse: How do these meanings pass into the real world through language that 'does' something? The example of 'hookup' culture.
Language does things in the world. Media industries play a key role in fixing meanings in language. That's the connection between media content and social power.
From qualitative textual analysis to quantitative content analysis
Harold Lasswell: Media research must be based on the systematic description of media content.

The problem with interpretative work on individual texts is that it can be easily dismissed as subjective and selective.

George Gerbner agreed-to an extent. BUT his work was ALSO concerned with the creation and circulation of political meaning through signs.
An example of propaganda from the Great War: the question of how 'typical' these images were during the war inspired the move to quantitative content analysis.
Gerbner's work started with an interest in folklore; stories which conveyed meanings about cultural values.
Gerbner saw media texts as links in chains of social communication-the connects cultivation with the concept of encoding/decoding, which we'll discuss next week.
Gerbner coined the phrase 'cultural indicator'. What he meant by this was that media texts contained clues about how commercial storytelling by media industries now played the social role once occupied by folkore.
Gerbner was interested in how narratives were built across texts through the repetition of signs.
Was Violence the dominant sign of Prime time TV, and if so, what did this mean?
What are the basic elements of content analysis?
Counting of media content
The goal is to produce reliable accounts of media content: analyses that anyone could reproduce, given the same methods (depend on methods, not the sensitivity or insights of individual researchers).
Close attention to sampling of content
Development of coding categories subjected to testing and refinement
Coding done by teams, checked with tests of intercoder reliability
Klaus Krippendorf, "An Introduction to Content Analysis", Sage 2013.
Back To Gender
Content analysis supports the view that discourses of gender are a key feature of media content.
In the 1950s, Gerbner had used multiple methods (content analysis, interviews with media producers, interviews with retailers) to argue that magazines encouraged women to know their place and find happiness through consumption.
Criticisms
Meaning can't be measured
Cultivation made no distinctions between genres
Cultivation took no interest in audience interpretation.
Response
The violence described the symbolic structure of TV content. The was never represented as a definitive account of what the meaning of the medium
The violence profiles explicitly set out to map the signs that CROSS genres. This is in keeping with notions of intertextuality and discourse.
Gerbner DID argue that different responses to different texts were irrelevant to the preferred meanings of corporate storytelling...
BUT, this was an argument he made by looking at texts in relation to evidence about viewers' responses....which leads us into next week's session on audiences.
A short piece on the way that the meaning of TV violence might have changed.
https://theconversation.com/vale-dexter-the-serial-killer-who-changed-the-face-of-tv-violence-18220

Media texts 'represent'
The Violence profiles
Annual content analysis of the violence on prime time US television.
Commissioned in the 1960s, at a time when there was great concern about social conflict in the US (the research had a political context).
Content analysis looked at the amount of violence on prime time, not on particular shows or genres.
The text was 'television', because viewers watched by the clock, not by the show-this idea reflects the idea of intertextuality.
The Method
It's a mean world.....
The Results
Violence had a distinct pattern; it happened to women, elders, kids and people of colour.
The people who got away with it were most likely to be white middle class middle aged men.
The 'meaning' of TV was that 'it's a mean world'.
If you're a woman, your in danger, and there's nothing you can do about it except follow the rules and hope society will protect you.
This was television's main 'narrative'.
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