Power and Persuasion


Nobody can dispute the media are powerful institutions in our society – 

  • Economically 
  • Politically 
  • Culturally

The media are large money making institutions, they have the potential to wield political influence and shape peoples view of the world and they have significantly influenced the way people think and behave. 


Nor can you dispute the persuasive nature of the media.

The media are entertaining and informative, enjoyable and provocative – audience persuaded to watch the media. 

Characteristics That Create Meaning in Media Texts

  1. Media Form
  2. Rhetoric and Persuasion
  3. Narrative
  4. Audience Position
  5. Mode of Address
  6. Codes and Conventions

Media Form:

shapes the way messages and stories are constructed in any given medium and they also influence how audiences react and interpret those messages and stories

The most important form aspects are:

  • Technologies

Television, Digital Film, Digital downloads, 3D technology, Internet, Apps, Digital Distribution Servers, CGI. 

The rapid advancement of media technologies has brought about an explosion of new media forms and products that can be transmitted over vast distances to reach larger and larger audiences. The expectation is that you will be able to deconstruct these technological choices, looking at how they have influenced the overall meaning of particular media works. 

  • Economics and Productive Style

In this highly economic age most of you will not be surprised by what the media can produce. 

Style and budgets have a huge impact on how powerful and persuasive media texts can be. 

Both Style and Budget affect: Scale of productions, Live VS Post event coverage, Access to technology, Access to VIPs/Actors, Equipment, Audiences Interpretation, How bias/neutral you can be. 

  • Viewing and Listening Context

The context in which we view or listen to the media will have an impact on how we make meaning of media messages. he context can also determine just how persuasive or powerful the media form can be. 

Some examples include: TV VS Cinema Release, Youtube Distribution, Social media Distribution, Underground Distribution, App Distribution, Professional VS Amateur Production 

  • Audiences 

Audiences have different expectations of particular media forms as they use these forms for many different purposes. Being able to determine who the intended audience is/what their expectations are based on the form that the Director chooses is a crucial factor when analysing media work. 

Some examples include: Documentary audiences expect insight on a subject, Art film audiences expect to see certain characteristics being present in the protagonist and etc. 

Rhetoric and Persuasion 

Rhetoric is the practice of using language to persuade or influence others. Visual codes are used rhetorically to persuade or influence others. 

Rhetoric shapes meanings in all media narratives through: Selection and Omission Details, Camera and Crew, Film and Sound Editing.

  • Selection/Omission decisions

During media production information, codes, conventions and content are selected and combined into rhetorical language to create entertaining, engaging and persuasive narratives that tap into the values of audiences. On the other hand, various codes, conventions, information and content are left out to further persuade an audience of a point of view. 

  • Camera and Crew

All media images are revealed to us as they are ‘played’ out in front to the camera. It is quite paradoxical because we can never see what would have taken place if the camera had not been present to record the events. However the camera can influence the way that people behave

  • Film sound and Editing

The way that sound and shots are arranged can be very persuasive. Film and sound editing play a significant part in the creation of meaning. Editors are able to manipulate appealing images and sound to create powerful messages. 


Media narratives are engaging and entertaining. They have the ability to absorb us in the lives of real and fictional people. Conflicts and resolutions are often employed to help construct a message to the audience. The most powerful and persuasive messages are those that support the values of the target audience. 

Some documentaries that use traditional narrative structure to hook audiences: Fahrenheit 911 and Waltz with Basher. 

Audience Position

When producers of media texts construct their messages, they select from a range of images, words and sounds to position their target audience. They hope that it will be difficult for the text to be interpreted in any way other than the preferred meaning. Media narratives are not impartial. They can be influential in: Invoking strong responses, Making audiences believe something, Changing attitudes. 

Mode of Address 

The mode of address refers to how media texts speak to audiences. Just as we use different modes of address when speaking to a friend, a teacher or a police officer, the producers of a media text choose particular modes to address particular audiences. 

The mode of address works from the premise that media texts have a target audience and address that audience. 

Codes and Conventions

The use of the camera is significant in positioning audiences. The producer uses the camera to select what the audience will see, thus positioning the audience to view the events, characters and issues in the same way as the photographer or filmmaker. 

Important Technical Considerations include: Camera distance (different distance invokes different meaning), Camera angle, Juxtaposition, Lighting and Audio Codes. 


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