Media Analysis Exercise

  1. Choose a media phenomenon worthy of critical attention. A minute or two of any genre of TV broadcast may be selected.
  2. Criteria for selection are based on observations that evoke questions about communication, power, social norms, conventions, stereotypes, or categories of identity such as race, class, age, or gender.
  3. Next, identify how communication takes place. That is, what signs are perceived as significant–words, sounds, images, objects, or a mental image, idea/concept, sense, intuition, or feeling? Is meaning communicated primarily through a direct connection to real events or objects in the world (index), resemblance to actual objects or events (icon), or cultural convention (symbol).
  4. Distinguish between denotation (the literal meanings), and connotation (the implied meanings) based upon the context of the sign related to social conventions, values, and beliefs. For example, a car is literally (denotation) a means of transportation, but a Lexus is a car that also implies (connotation) that the person using the car is wealthy and has high social status.