A Study on Audience Sense Making of Media Texts: Betoch Drama in Focus

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Addis Ababa University


This study aims at finding out how the audiences make sense of Beloch drama and · the intcrpreti vc lens they bring in their reception of the text as well as fac tors that might have contributed to such sense making. It also examines the grati fications the audiences derive from the experience of watching the drama. To this end, act ive audience theory in relation to encoding/decoding model as well as uses and grati lications model were used as theoretical frameworks. According to the encoding/decoding model. audience can accept tile dominant/preferred meaning, generate oppositional meaning or sett le with a negotiated meaning in consuming a media text. Uses and gratifications model posits that audiences actively seek and consume media texts that gratify their needs. A semi-structured in-depth interview was used for collecting a qualitative data in order to .find answers to the research questions. Once the composition of the subjects was determi ned on the basis of literature on the topic, twenty-five subjects. excluding the producer of the drama, were se lected for interview using convenience sampl ing. As per the literature on the subject, the st udy (during the data collection), took into account factors like age, occupation, gender, and education whi ch were considered to be among the factors that could have a bearing on the way audience consume a media text. The analysis of the data shows that most of the audience mell1bers intervielVed (regardless of difference in gender. age, education and occupation) seell1 to, 1l10re or less, share si ll1ilarinterprctat ions of the drama tex ts, which wcre largely in line with the dominant readings on offer. However, the analys is also re veal s instances whereby the audi ence rej ected the preferred meanll1g and constructed oppositional readings to the tex t. It seems that such oppositional readings in the context of thi s study were partly anributable to factors, such as family background, personal association and preferences. What is more, the study shed light on the varied gratifi cations the aud iences have derived from consuming i3eloch drama teoXt. As noted earlier, irrespecti ve of the di verse nature of the audi ence selected for the stud y, the interpretive lens they brought to the drama texts was not that much di verse as one would have expected. As Seiter ( 1999) argues, this might be because the encoding/decoding model (used in this study) works bet1er fo r news and current affai rs programs than for entertainment programs. l:3ascd on thesc findin gs, the study has suggested that more academic research be carried out in the area that aims at testi ng Hal l's encoding/decoding model with this genre. In addition, it is recommended that relevant insti tutions should consider providing some form of sensiti zation training to producers of entertainment programs so as to enable them to create entertainment texts that would cater for the di verse group of audiences.



Media Texts, Betoch Drama in Focus