The SAGE Key Concepts series provide students with accessible and authoritative knowledge of the essential topics in a variety of disciplines. Cross-referenced throughout, the format encourages critical evaluation through understanding. Written by experienced and respected academics, the books are indispensable study aids and guides to comprehension. Key Concepts in Journalism offers a systematic and accessible introduction to the terms, processes, and effects of journalism;a combination of practical considerations with theoretical issues; and further reading suggestions. The authors bring an enormous range of experience in newspaper and broadcast journalism, at national and regional level, as well as their teaching expertise. This book will be essential reading for students in journalism, and an invaluable reference tool for their professional careers.


The process through which a reader/viewer draws meaning from a text (Hall, 1980). In the words of Condit (1989: 494): ‘viewers and readers construct their own meanings from texts. Audiences do not simply receive messages; they decode texts.’

Although the meaning(s) which a journalist intends an article to have (encoded meaning) and a reader's interpretation of this same article (decoded meaning) may not be the same thing, decoding is not entirely ‘free’ either: encoding produces preferred meanings which limit some of the parameters within which decoding takes place (Hall, 1980: 57). Hall lists three positions which the reader may take in relation to these preferred meanings: the dominant-hegemonic position, where the reader ‘is operating inside the dominant code’ (ibid.: 59) and adopts the encoded message in ...

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