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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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