Research In Media Messages
Content Analysis And Semiotic Analysis
Each type of media communicates in a different way to the audiences. There are different forms of the media like photography, radio, television, films, advertising, newspaper, and magazines. Each of these mediums has to be analyzed differently to take into account their unique aspects. The way in which these different forms of media communicate their messages is very important. Also important is the message itself which is communicated. The form in which a message appears contributes to the way in which we are able to decode and understand any media text. There are debates about the media which focus on a distinction between form and content. The form is the way in which a particular medium packages its message by using its specific technology, codes, and conventions. Content is the message itself and the ideas it contains.
Semiotic analysis is used to study words, images, music and other aspects that can be considered a sign. Semiotics is the science of signs. It is based on the idea that language, signs, and their meanings are historical, socially and cultural produced.
Ronald Barthes made a distinction between two orders of signification. At the first order known as denotation, - meaning is in the image itself or signifies itself. At the second level of connotation, meaning is derived from the image, but it is also understood in terms of terms of its culture. For e.g. a red rose that is shown, at the first level just signifies a particular type of flower with a red colour. At the second level, an additional meaning is attached which is culturally derived i.e. red rose as a symbol of romance.
Semiotics provides information on media texts and also on how particular meanings keep recurring in the media.
On the other hand, the content analysis goes into studying in detail the content of media.
Content analysis is an approach that analyses the content of the media. It creates detailed profiles of media content and identify trends in content detailed profiles of media content and identify trends in the content of media over a period of time. It has been used to study issues like violence among television programme, etc.
Debate Between American And British Schools Of Media Studies
There are two different of thought in relation to studies of mass media. American school made use of empirical research methods of study. On the other hand, the European thinkers were sceptical about such scientific and quantitive research method for research on the media. They felt that these methods were actually fetish of the Americans. Some European academics were actually resentful of the impact the Americans had enjoyed after World War 2. They felt that American empiricism was too simplistic and not intellectually stimulating. Some European approaches for studying the media like the qualitative methods of study.
A group of European theorists who strongly were against this post-World War 2 influence of the Americans, were the Neomarxists. Neomarxists believe that media enables the dominant social elites to continue maintaining their power. The media was seen as a convenient, suitable but yet effective means of creating world view which supported the interests of these elites. They felt that the media was like a public arena where cultural was created. Elites fought and a dominant or hegemonic culture was created. Elites dominate as they have important advantages, the opposition was marginalized and the status quo was presented as the only logical and rational way of structure in the society. For the neomarxists, the focus was on examining media institutions and interpreting media content. It was during 1960's that neomarxists in Britain developed a school of thought widely referred to as British cultural studies. This focused on mass media and the role which they played in promoting a hegemonic worldview and dominant culture among various subgroups in society. British cultural studies started their studies with deterministic assumptions about the influence of media. They focused on media having powerful and direct effects. Their work was related to audience reception studies and the potential power of the media. At the other end, American media scholars ignored this dimension of study as they felt sceptical about the power of media.
During the 1970's there were questions relating to the powerful media effects that were raised in U.S. universities. These questions were generally put forward by thinkers of the humanities, and these scholars were not trained in the scientific method of study. Moreover, they were not restricted by the American notion media having limited effects. As their ideas were not supported by scientific evidence, they were ignored and marginalized. Some scholars were supported by European-style cultural criticism and others like Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan tried to create "authentic" American schools of culture studies.