Definition of media text
Media texts constitute any media product that one wishes to examine, be it a book, poster, television show, or even a popular song. The idea behind this is that all communication, world representation, or fictional discourse is an attempt to construct and define reality (Berger 2014, 22). Media texts present a worldview which can influence audiences. An audience of any text will draw from its range of possible meanings a particular reading which reflects that individual’s gender, cultural background, skill in reading, race and even the age among others. Hence, the significance of the text is not determined by anyone else other than the dynamic relationship between the reader and the text. Textual analysis is the way one interprets and describes the characteristics of a recorded or visual message on a media text. This particular seeks to analyze the ‘Pregnancy Magazine’ as a case study of the media texts and have a look at the way the authors are passing on their messages and how they are impacting their audiences (Berger 2014, 23-26).
Firstly, it is important to understand how media makes meaning to the readers. Millions of people often think that it is quite simple to comprehend the media the media is attempting to portray. But in reality, very few take a moment to pay attention to the details and components that are part of the media content (Loon 2008, 29). People often relate to certain media contents to familiarity and the creativeness used to allure or catch the attention of the reader, for instance, if a magazine does not contain very attractive images, there is much possibility that individuals will not offer their attention to it. With such observations in mind, rarely do people stop to consider the possible range of meanings that media make or have for some individuals or possibly thousands and millions of people. Analyzing media text, therefore, tries to draw attention to the fact that the media and their products are not just plain in their way of conveying messages. The mode of message conveyance is not just obvious or a matter of consensus.
Analysing media texts: Pregnancy Magazine
The pregnancy magazine is a magazine offering advice on pregnant women, giving them insights on ways to stay healthy during and after pregnancy through nutrition and exercising. The magazine also offers advice on ways to look after new born babies. The magazine has incorporated a number of features in an attempt to grab attention of readers and also convey message to women through graphics and text. To understand what the authors have intended to pass through, beyond pictures and words, one has to do a media text analysis. There are several tools used in analyzing media text, some of the ones that this paper is going to employ in the analysis include, rhetoric, language, and meaning. Language is the material out of which a single communication instance is created (Matheson 2011, 38-29). Rhetoric on the other hand is the way language is manipulated to a particular purpose, for example, the creation of emotion in poetry. Lastly, meaning is the message interpreted by the reader of the media text. Looking at the Pregnancy Magazine, media has used a lot of rhetoric techniques in the text to address its potential readers and to appeal them. The layout is typically similar to popular magazines, and this particular one is categorized under the wider group of women’s publication. The title of the magazine uses the largest font; the title is in the header of the cover page, and the middle of the page is a photograph of a female model who is posed in a natural situation. Some magazines use images of celebrities on their covers. Around the women are various tidbits related to the content within the magazine, they are designed to arouse potential readers’ interests further. The magazine does not only talk about pregnancy, but it goes farther and provides “Makeup tips” knowing well that such things intrigue women. “Safest Sunscreens” and Outdoor do’s and don’ts” also backs this up.
The cover is designed in a way to grab the attention of potential readers, take a note on the use of colors, and also the type of model used – she is obviously pregnant, but the pregnancy is not disturbing or rather the belly is not protruding much. There are deeper concepts or ideas about pregnancy that media tries to portray, to understand or critically think about the meanings, one has to think beyond the organization of font or the model used. For instance, the pastel colors used can be thought of as feminine. However, the use of rhetorical tools will not help in identifying why some colors might have been considered in the cover page illustration. To understand this, one has to consider using the semiology approach. Semiology assumes that to understand the message in any media communication; there has to be a matter of encoding and decoding what needs to be communicated. It is, therefore, the study of meaning and the different systems that facilitate understanding of the meaning conveyance (Medhurst, Martin &Thomas 1984, 96).
Syntactic, representations, and symbols
The syntactic analysis is the evaluation how words are combined to form sentences in the natural language. The syntactic analysis considers various grammatical units such as morphemes, words, phrases, clauses and finally the sentence (Sobin 2011, 41). The magazine uses the simple and compound sentences. Media representation refers to the structuring of any medium of aspects of reality; these elements include objects, events, places, people and cultural diversities. It is producing something that can represent the real world (Matheson 2011, 47). Symbolic analysis is the method of interpreting media texts based on symbols. The symbol in any media text that the eye sees acts a signal that activates interpretation. Symbolic interaction used in the magazine includes facial expressions, mode of dress, posture stance and social prestige. All these can be seen from the way the woman in the cover has posed and her facial expressions.
Effectiveness of the Magazine
The incorporation of texts and graphics comes out strong in enhancing the effectiveness of the magazine in conveying the intended message to the potential readers. The authors have also incorporated other techniques such as semiotics in their work. One of the semiotic tool or technique well used in the magazine is the use of signs, single written word signs are combined into sentences, then paragraphs and they later form full stories. The written elements are then combined with other words that are presented in large typefaces to create the headline – Pregnancy. The headlines are accompanied by a photograph another illustration diagrams such as diagrams. The major illustration in the cover which is the image of a pregnant lady is composed of several other elements, the hairstyle of the lady, background of the image, clothing and facial features. All these are strategically incorporated to convey a message to potential readers. For instance, the woman is wearing a pink dress and the most of the wordings on the cover have used pick color, this is to create harmony, and bright colors are often designed to grasp the attention of readers. A caption of images is also important as it anchors the meaning of the pictures and the response of the readers to them, reaffirming reader interpretation or undermining it by a certain degree. For instance, the image of the lady in the picture already shows that she is pregnant; therefore, readers have interpreted the message is for the pregnant people, they, therefore, require captions to reaffirm this, or rather to undermine their interpretations.
In conclusion, there are several ways people can interact with media; there are also different ways to analyze media text. This paper has looked into the various analysis tools such rhetoric, symbols and use of semiotics to in the analysis of a text. By using the cover page of the Pregnancy Magazine, the paper has managed to look into rhetoric, language, and meaning as the aspects of textual analysis. The rhetoric features or aspects such as images, typefaces and overall layout of the magazine page are conjoined to send a certain message that mothers or people interested in pregnancy stories might find interesting. The paper looked into the key concepts in semiotics, and the ways semiotics can be used in analyzing media texts by giving meaning (Leeuwen 2009, 426). It is also noted that combination of different elements of grammar such as clauses, words, and sentences as well as graphics make media context more captivating and attract potential readers’ eyes easily (Danesi 2011, 34-35).
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Danesi, Marcel. 2011. Understanding media semiotics. London: Hodder Education part of Hachette Livre.
Leeuwen, Theodoor Marius van. 2009. “Voice: a semiotics of the voice”. Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media. 425-436.
Loon, Joost van. 2008. Media technology: critical perspectives. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.
Matheson, Donald. 2011. Media discourses: analysing media texts. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Medhurst, Martin J., and Thomas W. Benson. 1984. Rhetorical dimensions in media: a critical casebook. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Pub. Co.
Sobin, Nicholas. 2011. Syntactic analysis: the basics. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
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Appendix 1: Cover Page for Pregnancy Magazine