Representation is how media texts deal with and present gender, age, ethnicity, national and regional identity, social issues and events to an audience. Media texts have the power to shape an audience’s knowledge and understanding about these important topics.
This makes them very powerful in terms of influencing ideas and attitudes.
In order to analyse media texts to determine how they've represented ideas and issues, it's important to be familiar with some of the key terms.
Key terms in Representation:
This is the way a media text is put together. In a film or television programme this includes the editing and choice of camera angles, in a magazine or newspaper it includes the layout and writing as well as the choice of images.
This is the process everything goes through before it reaches an audience.
This can be how a film script is written and re-written before it makes it to production, how newspaper or magazine photographs are cropped and captioned, or how real life events - like a protest or a speech by a politician - are portrayed in a news report.
This refers to what has been selected to include in a media text.
This can be particularly important in newspaper articles, where selecting certain facts over others can change the angle of a story; what is omitted is sometimes as important as what is included.
These are the words that go along with images to give those pictures a certain meaning in a specific context. This includes captions and headlines in newspapers and taglines in adverts or on film posters.
These are a simplified representation of a person, groups of people or a place, through basic or obvious characteristics - which are often exaggerated.
For example, Vicky Pollard from Little Britain is a stereotypical example of a working class teenage girl.
They can be used to describe characters quickly, relying on existing audience recognition.
Stereotypes are dangerous as they can lead audiences to generalise about people or places.
These are ideas and beliefs, held by media producers, which are often represented in their media texts.
In a newspaper, the ideology of the owner or senior editors could influence the way certain stories are represented, such as lending support to a particular political party.
In a documentary about asylum seekers, the representation of their story could be influenced by the ideology of the filmmaker or producer.