How often do you find yourself doing what seems like a million things at once? Perhaps you’re watching The Project on television whilst munching on pizza and scrolling through Facebook. These distractions are interfering with the messages the media you consume is trying to insert into your brain. Is it possible in this age for the media to communicate knowledge direct to you without any of this noise? Has it ever been possible?
The way we consume our media has changed drastically with the emergence of different media platforms. We have access to breaking news as soon as it happens, we have access to an array of knowledge at the touch of a button (thanks Google), and we as individuals produce our own media content in this age (think before you post!). But when the noise of day to day life gets in the way of messages the media is trying to send, you tend hear the things that matter to you and miss the ones that don’t.
In the history of media audience research people were thought to be easily influenced and gullible. The history of media audience research shows it was quantitative, and concentrated on how to monetise your viewing habits, by selling advertising time to advertisers based on number. However, this does not tell us the emotion of the people viewing or how they are watching. Although, I do believe most people are invested in the shows they are watching – why would they watch something they don’t enjoy? But, I also consider the distractions that can happen whilst viewing, like taking a phone call. This is termed qualitative research, focusing on the emotions and how the audience is watching and thinking.
A great example of assuming a linear transfer of message, without any distraction is the Channel Ten Programme Have You Been Paying Attention? where the guests get hints about news stories from around the world, then must recount the story from memory for points.
This brings us to communication theory. A great example was shown in the lecture, a YouTube clip of audience reactions of the ‘Red Wedding’ scene in Game of Thrones. It made me remember my reactions to that scene, my profane series of live tweets (R.I.P EVERYBODY), and how I wanted to cancel my HBO subscription. It shows how we invest in the shows we (sometimes) enjoy. However, this assumes others were also watching the scene with the same enthralment as I and the viewers in the YouTube clip. The ‘Red Wedding’ scene wouldn’t have as much impact to someone who had turned the volume down to take a phone call.
To make sense of media messages I believe the Shannon-Weaver model of communication best represents how most audiences consume media today. We hear what is important to us, and become distracted when something is not deemed as such.