bcu media

What do audiences do with media?

New media and photography theory – Week 7 2013


In this week’s lecture we discussed what the audience do with media, rather than the audience being a concept like last week. We discussed the way that audience can manipulate the forms media for their own satisfaction and purpose. We also used the active vs passive theory by Stuart Hall to help us understand the developments in audience theory.

Key theorists in this week’s lecture were Stuart Hall, Raymond Williams and Katz and Blumler. They all have made vital arguments in theorising the different ways in which an audience can consume the media. Moving on from popular and mass culture media effects, we considered the idea that audience consume media to their own uses and gratifications (Katz and Blumler in Long, P 2012:304). Webster also moves away from the effects models and begins to think about the other forms of consumerism “the “marketplace model”, casts people in the role of consumers who enter the marketplace and selects the products that suit their tastes” (Webster, J 1994:27). An example of the audience pursuing their uses and gratifications in photography would be using images that represent their personal identity, such as a smiley face or a football. This moves furthermore onto the idea that groups of people with collective uses and gratifications become a sub-culture or a fandom. (Long and Wall. 2012:314)

Uses and gratifications explores the idea that we as audiences can positively influence our personal media experiences (Lull in Long, P 2012:305) To do this, we have to become active audiences. Rather than the media coming to the audience, Webster explores the marketplace model as the audience coming to the media, knowledgeable of their preferences and therefore chooses specific products (Webster, J 1994:27). In this context, an audience member would seek out a fashion photographer’s work as they prefer that genre. They would not look for landscape photography if that was the case.

The marketplace model and Stuart Hall’s active audience theory share the same key concepts. They evoke the thought that audiences have increasingly more power over the producers. Webster implies that future developments will occur “it is for such an environment that the laws of supply and demand seem best suited” (Webster, J 1994:34)

To further research into the subject of what the audience do with the media I would conduct an ethnographic study of a fandom. I would emerge myself into the culture of becoming a fan and report on my findings. I would conduct interviews with fans, talk about their relationship with the media producers for their product, observe events and habits of a fan with the aim to interpreting the meaning of fandom.


Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.

Webster, J. and Phalen, P.. (1994). Victim, consumer or commodity?. In: Ettema, J. and Whitney, C. Audiencemaking. London: SAGE Publications Ltd. p19-37.


Conceptualising the Audience

New media and photography theory – Week 6 2013


Week six consisted of critiquing the common-sense approach to the audience. The audience is defined by Long and Wall as “an anonymous and variable collective of individuals addressed (as a group of individuals) by the organs of ‘mass’ media communication” (Long and Wall 2012:488). This week moved beyond the original ideas of audience and into the ideas of the audience being a product of the media (Long and Wall 2012:275).

A realisation that became apparent during the lecture was that without the audience, there would be no media and without the media there would be no profit. The more there is of media, in a variety of outlets and forms, the more competition. This adds pressure to the producers to attract more audiences using a variety of methods to continue to make the profit that they need.

Long describes how we are not always aware of being part of an audience, no matter how many millions of consumers are also sharing the same experience at the same time. (Long and Wall, 2012:279) Whilst Mattelart describes it from the perspective of producers “each media institution has its own specific way of positioning the viewer, regulating certain aspects of the production of meaning and production of emotional responses, and so forth”.(Mattelart, A 1992:82) Audience unawareness and power or manipulation by the producer implies in this case the vulnerability and passivity of consumers. I wonder how many people notice the ‘how are you feeling today John?’ question that appears in the box before you write a status on Facebook. Again this first person text positions its audience into feeling unique and influences them in some cases to carry out the producer’s desired response of a status and therefore, more time spent on Facebook.

That however, is not comparable to the possible media effects and influence from propaganda. It is an active manipulation of ideas, information and aims to inject its desired effects into its audience by restricting and misinforming them of other options. (Long and Wall 2012:286) Mattelart discusses the role of active minorities in manipulation of inert societies and discusses The Frankfurt School in their belief in the omnipotence of the mass media (Mattelart, A 1992:73). Nazi Germany used it to achieve large influence in world war two. However, the same concepts –if not slightly subtler- are still being used today in the likes of President Obama’s political campaign.

My two readings have altered my view on possible media power. I want to research further into modern day examples of moral panics created by new media. Fast paced and immediacy of the new media industry can create news before it has even been officially reported by the press and therefore the effects on the audience can be elevated.


Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.

Mattelart, A and Mattelart, M. (1992). New paradigms: The procedures of consumption. In: Translation by Cohen, J and Urquidi, M. Series editor: Bolton, R Rethinking media theory: Signposts and new directions. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p72-86.

Genre: Textual Meaning, Producers and Audiences

New media and photography theory – week 4 2013


This weeks lecture aimed to develop our thinking into understanding the use of genre by organisations. Genre is defined by Paul Long as “recognisable groupings, subsets or types of media forms comprising the the paradigmatic elements (stories, rhetoric, signification) that are drawn upon in the creation of individual syntagmatic texts” (Long and Wall 2012:489) The reasons we discussed as to why producers are conforming to genres were for profit maximisation, its economic incentive and to inform or entertain its audience.

Genre theory explored the various codes and conventions used by producers of the media to fall into the various categories and the reasons why they do so. In photography, there is genre examples such as fashion, portrait, vintage, black and white, landscape, documentary and beauty (to name a few). Via creating their work to the codes and conventions of these genres, the artefacts made by producers can be recognised, known and looked for by consumers.

Long and Wall believe that the three key concepts when analysing genre are codes, conventions and context. They all play a part in the overall outcome of a specific genre, or could contribute to the creation of a new genre.

My found reading for this week provided me with a case study for the image of the ‘Migrant Mother’. This particularly interested me because I knew of the picture and its iconic history but never knew why it was famous or of its origins and purpose.

The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange whilst working on a project for the government-run company called The Farm Security Administration (FSA) (Wells, L 2004: 39). Through the codes and conventions and clear context, we can see that the genre of the image is that of documentary photography. This has been defined by Profoto as “taking of photographs to provide a record of social and political situations with the aim of conveying information.” (Photography glossary n.d.)

The case study links to the points made by Long to analyse how genre and narrative combine to make meaning. (Long and Wall 2012: 95) “while photographs capture a movement in ‘media res’ they invite interpretations in terms of the narrative they present- however posed the situation”(Long and Wall :94) The case study considers the situation in which the image was taken of the ‘Migrant Mother’ and the photographers approach.

To research further into genres, production and audiences I would conduct a rhetorical analysis of some images that fit into the genre of fashion photography. Discussing the different codes and conventions that are used and how they define the image, hoping to find trends in both in my report.


Long, P and Wall, T (2012) Media Studies: Texts, Production, Context (2nd Edition), London:Pearson.

Price, D. and Wells, L.. (2004). Thinking about photography: debates, historically and now.. In: Wells, L Photography: A critical introduction. 3rd ed. New York : Routledge. p37-48.

Photography Glossary n.d. Available: Last accessed 16th March 2013.

Bloc Beatz meets Disorder Boutique

August 13

The Bloc Beatz team took a trip down to Disorder Birmingham on Needless ally in the city centre to chat to Mark Howard, the founder of the Boutique. If you ever got bored of the norm, wanted to stand out more or liked being a trend setter? Disorder is for you. A beautiful store with a niche range of apparel.


One of the artistic T's in the boutique

One of the artistic T’s in the boutique

Mark designs and produces the products sold in store and said that travelling has had a huge influence on his pieces.

“I go to Burma a lot, because of its old connections with Britain, it has an eastern twist on modern British architecture. I just sit and draw. All of my clothing has a story to it, it’s rooted.”

If you have never stepped into the store, it is like stepping into another realm, full of vibrant colours and exclusive patterns that scream out from all over the world.

Quirky face - showing off the accessories in the store

Quirky face – showing off the accessories in the store

Disorder Boutique – where fashion meets fine art

As well as selling clothes and accessories, Disorder Boutique has a collection of Mark’s own artwork taken from his passion for art galleries. Mark’s paintings adorn the walls and add a true character to the shop, acting as a reflection of his own perspective.

“for me, painting should be about turning everyday things upside-down and re-looking at something. I wanted to set up an art gallery but then realised it was easier to sell clothes, they are a more accessible form of art. My shop is like my own little gallery.”

Disorder – breaking trend

Believing that society has become more about conforming, Disorder aims to provide a space in our second city for the creation of something unique.

The boutique, originally located in China town, is now situated down a quirky alley close to the high street. Now, we don’t think there is much competition from the high street brands, but Mark knows that there are pressures

“We are a niche store and as we are competing with the big brands, we have to provide an edge. These days people are totally seduced by big brands and they judge themselves accordingly. You can’t have a dynamic economy without new people coming through, there needs to be a place for that. I think our underground positioning makes us a little bit more interesting and gives us an edge”.

Disorder is a flagship for the underground scene of Birmingham, the products have attracted people all over the globe and national awards have given it recognition for its prowess.

“We want to surprise people and break down barriers”.

Surprisingly, the Disorder owner is not into fashion. “It is so difficult to be creative and so few designers make it nationally.”

Denim, Denim, Denim

Denim, Denim, Denim

The beatz behind the brand

“I love music, a whole mix, I love going to a place where you can dance. I try not to pigeonhole my taste, but I love psychededia, the music is quite random and experimental, I like it when you can tell that somebody has put time into making a track.”

Mark joked,

“We often have mix tapes dropped in by various DJs, I don’t always know the genre, but I know that I like it”

But, when it comes to designing, who doesn’t love a little bit of Jimmy Hendrix eh?

“sometimes you put music on, it fades out and you will get into the zone. His music is free and imaginative, I like that”.

Which person would you love to represent the Disorder brand?

Now, aside from the fact that the legend is deceased, Hendrix was Marks immediate response, alongside David Bowie who he defined as “incredibly clever with the things he did and how he did them.”

Describe your brand in three words


and at Bloc Beatz, we totally agree.

Photography by Sophie Drake Imagery