Mass Media Audience in Malaysia

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 7 October 2016

Mass Media Audience in Malaysia

In the mass media perspective, have two types of audience which is the passive audience and the active audience. But sometimes, they maybe act both of these types. So, in discuss this both type of the audience, I have pick up the difference theory to explained how their style can give the powerful effects to mass media or by their attitudes make the mass media have the limited impact on them. Lots of theory that has been discussed on passive audience, and state that people are easily influenced by the media.

While active audience concept can be viewed as a theory that focuses on accessing what people do with media. This concept said that the people make more active decisions about how to use the media (Stephen W. Littlejohn and Karen A. Foss, 2008). For that reason, this concept can be referred to as audience-centered rather than source dominated. Baran and Davis (2006) suggested that this concept should be looked under micro level perspective rather than macro level perspective. These ideas of audience are associated with various theories of media effects.

The powerful effects theories tend to be based on passive audience, whereas the minimal effect theories are based more on an active audience. During the 1970s and 1980s, more researchers became increasingly focused on media audience. Most of them focus to gain more useful understanding of what people do with the media in their daily lives. As this research develop, new and less pessimistic conceptualization of audience began to develop. Empirical researcher start to reexamined limited-effect assumption about audience and argued that people were not as passive as these effects theory assumed (Baran and Davis, 2006).

Media audience is a group of people who participate in an experience or encounter a work of art, literature, theatre, music or academics in any medium. Audience members participate in different ways in different kinds of art; some events invite overt audience participation and others allowing only modest clapping and criticism and reception. Media audiences are studied by academics in media audience studies. Audience theory also offers scholarly insight into audiences in general. Early research into media audiences was dominated by the debate about ‘media effects’, in particular the link between screen violence and real-life aggression.

Several moral panics fuelled the claims, such as the incorrect presumptions that Rambo had influenced Michael Robert Ryan to commit the Hungerford massacre, and that Child’s Play 3 had motivated the killers of James Bulger In the 1990s, David Gauntlett published critiques on media ‘effects’, most notably the “Ten things wrong with the media effects model” article (George Rodman, 2009) . Active audience was define as the audience for a media product, seen not as accepting a product as it is presented to them, but as interpreting, interacting with and using it for their own agenda.

Frank Biocca (in Littlejohn, 1999) (in George Rodman, 2009) discussed five characteristic of the active audience implied by the theorist. The first is selectivity. Active audiences are considered to be selective in the media they choose to use. The second characteristic is utilitarianism. Active audience are said to use media to meet particular need and goals. The third is intentionality, which implies the purposeful use of media content. The fourth characteristic is involvement, or effort. Here audiences are actively attending, thinking about, and using the media.

The last characteristic is impervious to influence, or not very easily persuaded by the media alone. According to uses and gratification media effects assumed the audience brought their own needs and desires to the process of making sense of media messages. Needs and desires structured how messages are received and understood by the audience. Theory uses and gratification was the first to champion the cause of “the active audience”. It shifted the emphasis from what the media do to people and placed the issue of what people do with the media.

U and G state the audience as more active in the decision to watch television and what to watch. Kartz, Blumler, and Gurevitch (1974)(in Saodah Wok, Narimah Ismail and Mohd. Yusof Hussain, 2005) described five elements of the U and G. First, the audience is conceived of as active, an important part of mass media use is assumed to be goal directed. Second, in the mass communication process much initiative in linking need gratification and media choice lies with the audience member. Third, the media compete with other sources of need satisfaction.

Fourth, many goals of mass media use be derived from data supplied by individuals themselves, they can report their interest and movies. Lastly, value judgments about the cultural significance of mass communication should be suspended while audience orientations are explored. Besides that, information Processing Theory also used to describe and interpret how each of us take in and makes sense of the flood of information our senses encounter every moment of each day. It assumes that individuals are active in operate with certain built-in information-handling capacities and strategies.

Each day we are exposed to cast quantities of sensory information. We filter this information so only a small portion of it ever reaches our conscious mind. Only a tiny fraction of this information is singled out for attention and processing, and we finally store a tiny amount of this in long-term memory. We are not so much information handlers as information avoiders-we have developed sophisticated mechanisms for screening out irrelevant or useless information. Passive audiences usually had received information with little or no effort on their part.

The audience is passive in the receiving and interpretation of media. Based on that statement, Noelle-Neumann (1981) (Shirley Biagi, 1999) introduced her spiral of silence concept to support the powerful of media. She argued that her perspective involves a “return to the concept of powerful mass media”. She wrote, “as regards the connection between selective perception and the effect of the mass media, one can put forward the hypothesis that the more restricted the selection the less the reinforcement principle applies, in other words the greater the possibility of mass media changing attitudes”.

She contends people who feel they are a minority opinion remain silent, thereby reinforcing or enlarging the majority position. These people take a silent stance on an issue. Their silence result in a kind of contagion of silence among others who share the minority view; and this ever-spiraling or enlarging silence plays into the hands of the vocal majority. The mass media exert great influence and have powerful effects because publicize which opinion they consider important and give clues to the public about opinion people can talk about or advocate without becoming isolated.

The media, because of a variety of factors, tend to present one sides of an issue to the exclusion of others, which further encourages those people to keep quiet and makes it even tougher for the media to uncover and register that opposing viewpoint. Once a spiral of silence is initiated, the magnitude of media influence will increase to higher levels over time. Spiral of silence theory argues that media can have a powerful influence on everyday talk; this was linked with the concept passive audience.

Media can literally silence public discourse on certain topics by declaring them to be settled in favor of one or another. Besides that, Habermas (1962) (in John C. Merrill, John lee and Edward Jay Friendlander, 1994), gave a unique explanation of the social structure and the audience in it. Within his concepts of the “public sphere”, the residents consume the culture and information and the audience is portrayed as a member of the society, who participates in the exchange of ideas.

Even though this audience participation was interpreted as bringing “degeneration in the quality of discourse” (Calhoun, 1993) (in John C. Merrill, John lee and Edward Jay Friendlander, 1994), his glimpse of the “audience activeness in participation” plays a role in connecting critical theory, which focuses more on the passive audience under fundamental economic determinism, to cultural studies, which regard the audience as more active within the extensive structure of the society.

Critical theory’s main focus is on economic determinism, in which capitalistic power controls the mass media ownership and its messages, and in turn, controls the audience’s perception and activity. The audience is not regarded as being as important as the mass communicator, but is treated as a side issue in the mass communication process. In Malaysian, the issues about media violence especially on the television programs and the impacts on children’s behaviour it’s always being discuss among the society and academician. The study about these issues was started from 1950’s until now.

It’s become more critical when a lot of improvement have on media technology, especially on the content. This is because, the technology is always developed. Most people do not believe that media violence has had any a negative effect on them. In public opinion polls, typically 88% of people say that the media have not affected them personally (Whiteman, 1996; in W. James Potter, 2003). But, in reality the media continually and profoundly affect everyone, and when the messages are violent, people are at risk for a variety of negative effects.

Basically people do not perceive these negative effects happening to them in their everyday lives, not because those effects don’t exist, but because people do not know what to look for as evidence of the effects. Schramm and his associates reported that children were exposed to television more than to any other mass medium (Shirley Biagi, 1999). In Malaysian context media violent bring the huge impact to our society development. According to Orestes (2002), media violent is a major problem threatens the harmony of family life.

According to him, many media spread the mistaken notion that sex, pornography, porno-actions, violence, terrorism extreme and wild life, all of these aside from culture and religion. He also found, reflecting the influence of irresponsible media lead to moral standards in the Asian youth is declining, 20% of teenagers involved with adultery, 24% were involved with pornography and porno-actions, 21% sex before marriage and 35% of juvenile cases. All this will lead to teen more problematic and involves the breach of discipline problems at school very significant.

According to Amir Hassan Dawi (2002), films, newspapers, magazines, novels, books, internet, interactive media and television to highlight the culture of yellow has been a problem in changing the behaviour of physical, verbal, nonverbal, antisocial and crime among students. He reported that the sex scenes and violent action seen in the media that will make young minds hard and greedy. He also stated that this matter cannot be denied because their average age between 12 to 20 years of age is a stage is still considered raw.

At this stage, students easily stimulated because they are in the process of change to natural puberty. Thus they will aggression that was adapted to use information to media practiced in their daily behaviour. Violent programs in the media as well as imitation of behaviour problemspersistent to the teenagers (Ralph, 1999). According to him, when many violent and behaviour that aired in the media with easily influenced and imitated by the children and adolescents.

These issues become even worse what if the parents knowingly make a media a place to escape from educating children as fatigue factor, career and finding sources of income (Rogers, 1980) (in Rosly kayar, 2007). Thus, character building children depend on viewing and simple materials found in the media. This will cause teenagers to make the material as a medium for viewing learn something and then practiced in life. Consequently, violent treatment of pleasure and in accordance with the instinct of youth will be the main mechanisms of adolescent attitudes and behaviour.

Thus, the adolescent will be more wild and vulnerable violent activities (Baron, 1973) (in Rosly Kayar, 2007). This entire technological advance occurred simultaneously with profound alterations in Malaysian society. Stanley J. Baran and Dennis K. Davis (2009) state, the new social landscape took shape at precisely the same time that the new mass medium arrived. So, after the rapid social change in the Malaysia especially, the serious social problem also had the rapid rise. Based on that situation, in my opinion audiences in Malaysia was an active audience. To relate these ssues with my statement, I have chosen the Uses and Gratification Theory by Bumler dan Katz in 1974 to understand more how the communication technology advancement will be effect the children’s, and also its will answer why I said the audience perspective in Malaysia is active audience. In the Uses and Gratification Theory, active audience from the violent media site, can be described as how the teenagers used the variety way to achieved their satisfaction by using television. This theory emphasizes the willingness of consumers and not the content of the message.

Media is considered as a way to meet the needs of the audience and the audience is assumed to be active. While Saodah Wok, Narimah Ismail and Mohd Yusof Hussain (2005) states this theory can explain why some of the contents of television are not watched by the audience. Maybe it does not interest them or do not have the required information. This theory also explains how the individual characteristics of the different character of the television media channels to satisfy the requirements and to solve problems. Certain individuals, especially teenagers have different goals to support treatment.

According to Rice and Williams (1984) (in Sobhi Mohd Ishak, 2003), the emergence of new media is the best field to test the various theories and models. One of the theories that the media are often used to analyze new media Uses and Gratification theory is the requirement. Other than Rice and Williams, several other researchers are also using this theory as a reference for research on mass media such as Williams, Strover and Grant (1996) (in Sobhi Mohd Ishak, 2003). As the theory relating to “active audience”, Uses and Gratification Theory of the Will provides perspective on how audiences respond to new media-rich information resources.

The active audience can be seen in this issues when the audience watch the violent content on the media like television, they have the tendency to behave or talk like what they watch without realizing what they had follow is negative or positive. So this action can be considered as active audience. This because, they watch the media content, then they practices on their live. From their act they would change the perspective of media in terms of carrying the message to give the information. For example, the results of the present widespread television exposure, exposure to sex is also becoming more numerous and easier to achieve.


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 7 October 2016

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