This report distinguishes the different characteristics between the women’s fashion magazine Shop! Til You Drop and its online counterpart, www.shoptilyoudrop.com.au, and by using the Uses and Gratifications theory, attempt to explain why a responder may choose one platform over the other.
This report will identify the differences and similiarities between the Shop! Til You Drop print magazine and the website to determine the uses and gratifications sought by the audiences who engage with either or both publications. The main issues examined in this report are the differences in quality between the print and online articles and why an online platform is necessary.
I will firstly describe and define the Uses and Gratification theory and state the theoretical position of my research as well as provide a critical analysis of the theory. I will then elaborate on the methodology used to come to my conclusion and apply a content analysis and compare other studies on the same topic.
Uses and Gratification theory doesn’t just explain what types of media people are engaging with, it theorises why they engage with certain forms of media.
Initial forms of communication studies in the early 1900’s believed that the audience was seen as a passive figure by the creators of media, who alleged that they could ‘inject’ ideas through a ‘Hypodermic Needle’ that would be passively accepted by the audience. As more research methods were utilized, particularly qualitative research, the media industry became more aware of the active audience, who could decode their messages for their own ‘uses and gratifications’
In 1974 Jay Blumler published The Uses Of Mass Communications : Current
Perspectives On Gratifications Research (1974). McQuail, Blumler and Brown suggested that there are four main categories or ‘uses’ for media, which are: “Diversion, Personal Relationships, Personal Identity and Surveillance” (McQuail 1997, p. 70).
Although this theory and McQuail’s categories can seem all encompassing, as Chandler (1994) explains, “Viewers may not know why they chose to watch what they did, or may not be able to explain fully. The reasons which can be articulated may be the least important.” However the investigation of an audience through the lens of the Uses and Gratifications theory does allow for a much greater understanding of why an audience chooses which media source over another, in this instance, why someone may choose a print magazine over its accompanying website or vice versa.
Therefore in order to fully analyse why the content of a print source offers different uses and gratifications to the online version, I can apply McQuail’s categories to determine exactly why one may make this distinction.
The methodology I employed in my research is that of a case study which is examined by using content analysis. The case study methodology is particularly effective in this scenario as it gives specific examples of publications and can more closely examine and provide evidence in favour (or against) the hypothesis. However, case studies differ on a case-by-case basis therefore the results can be inconsistent and/or biased. Using content analysis again gives a better understanding of the issues raised and can further illustrate the argument being made. As Messenger (2006) states, “objectivity and rigour are vital, but expecially so in content analysis so to avoid accusations of deliberately creating a technique that will find what you are looking for.” (Pg 98)
Although qualitative research is incredibly effective in understanding the uses and gratification sought by an audience, in this instance carrying out such research methods would be far beyond the means of students therefore a quantitative method of content analysis is needed in order to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the magazine and website and