Understanding the Audience

Journalism and media in general works an only if there is an audience therefore a media person has to understand the audience and what it wants and needs in order to satisfy them. In this way one can satisfy his audience while delivering the message that they have in a way that works with the viewers.

What is an audience?


The main purpose of media is to influence the audience.

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Understanding the Audience 

Two types of audiences – Passive and Active

In 1955 Katz and Lazarsfeld back in the 1920s – 1930s noticed that the audience was very passive towards media. This was resulted when understanding the audience’s behaviour. The behaviour from the audience was a extreme passive one since they used to listen and believe directly. This action was later on called the Hypodermic Needle Model. Which is formed by the elite society ‘spoon feeding’ the audience which happens to be reluctant to ask back or doubt what is being said.


1940s : Two Step Model 

In this way the audience was being seen as being acting and as being part of society. Katz and Lazarsfeld suggested that this type of audience consisted of mass media which is communicated with a popular individual which is an opinion leader with social contact which it is then given to the audience. In this way the audience was more active that the one mentioned before. However the audience here is not seen to be very active still passive to the leaders.


Active : 

Uses and Gratification Model: 1974 

Audience in this manner are so active that they use it to satisfy their needs, in a way the roles changed or became on par. Examples of uses of media by the audience and how it satisfies the audience.

  1. surveillance- documentation
  2. personal identity – cosmopolitan
  3. personal relationships – social media
  4. diversion and entertainment

Maslow a psychologist – Came up with the theory of The Maslow Hierarchy of needs 


According to Maslow this pyramid shows what citizens in a society need. Although this was taken from a psychological aspect this can be related to media and journalism. This is because it helps media people understand more the needs of the audience. It can also be applied that the audience can lack in a particular need or more from the picture above, therefore can relate to media to acquire the needed satisfaction.

For example someone who finds satisfaction in going abroad and is not permitted for some reason, finds comfort or satisfaction in media that represent the same idea in their aspirations or dreams.


Passive – Active



Today: The Audience is very active.

Today the audience changed since the audience is not only the consumer of journalism but also a producer with the notion of social media. This is because people have means to produce a media product and can be spread world with a press of a button. Individuals can be normal citizens and not involved in any sort of media house or not even free lancer.


One can encounter and incident or a particular event and report it on facebook with a video or a write up and video make him a producer hens making him a prosumer.

(Look-up Mc Carthy and Mc Carthyism)

A message is always sent to you decoded, when a active audience is present they encode it and form an opinion.