I recently took a short course on Newsu.org entitled “Understanding Media: Processes & Principles.” I found this course extremely enjoyable and learned a lot about specifics of the media that I didn’t know before. First, the course went through the various ways that the media persuades their audience, consisting of practical, emotional, and associations. Practical ways of persuasion include bribery, selling something at the lowest possible price, and reminding buyers of something from the past, among others. Some types of emotional persuasion are flattery, lying, and exaggerating. Using associations to persuade customers can also be done by “having the guy next door recommend the product,” making customers believe that celebrities use the product being sold, and making people think that everyone else has and/or is using the product.
Another useful piece of information I got from this course was how to analyze media and deconstruct the messages it conveys to you as a consumer. This course teaches you to pay attention to color and images, but more importantly not just their presence but also their relation to each other in the ad. It also teaches you to pay attention to music, sound elements, text content, typeface, and which persuasive technique is being used. Along with using your eye to analyze media, this course also adds that you should ask yourself a few “guiding” questions when examining a piece of media. Just a few examples of these questions are: What kind of media is it? What are its components? Would it look the same and convey the same message in another media?
Another interesting piece of information I took from this course is the fact that media messages represent reality in the sense that “each message creates its own world.” Whether it is a political ad campaign or a commercial for your favorite soft drink, ads somehow place you in the mind of the consumer of the product they’re selling. This, in a sense, is why ads are so successful, they make the consumer believe that if they buy the product they will be immersed into the life shown in said ad.