Sample Communication Paper on Encoding and Decoding in Media Content

Encoding and Decoding in Media Content


Communication involves passing of a message from the sender to the recipient or the audience. According to Stuart Hall, different recipients vary in how they disseminate and interpret the message from the sender (91). In light of this, encoding and decoding refers to the translation of a message in the most understandable way using verbal or non-verbal communication. Each recipient has a distinctive way of obtaining, absorbing, and understanding a message that has been conveyed by the sender. The media content is one of the most discussed aspects in regards to the encoding and decoding approach. Information that is relayed by the media has varied impacts depending on how the audience understands the message (Kelly 133). The encoding and decoding model of communication is categorized into a four groups that explain how the audience interprets a message. Hall argues that message interpretation varies with the venue of communication and the type of audience receiving the message; hence, the impact is divergent. The audience does not always interpret the message how the speaker or sender intended. In media perspective, the producer or the artist may intend to pass a very positive message, but the audience gets it negatively and the vice versa. Alicia Beth Moore is an American pop artist and an actress who is popularly known as Pink.

In 2013, Pink organized the Love Tourthat was sponsored by the CoverGirl Magazine to promote her sixth album.It involved touring Australia, North America, and Europe which amounted to 140 concerts. The tour received varied critical responses from different people such as fellow artists, clergy people, and business people among others. Damon asserts that there are various aspects such as ideologies, beliefs, and cultural contexts that influence how people decode a message from a music video or a concert. Therefore, this research explains the four models of encoding and decoding a message in relation to the concert by Pink.The paper highlights each of the four models of communication according to Stuart Hall and how they can be used to interpret the Love Tour Concert and the music videos in that album.

Encoding and Decoding Model of Communication

Stuart Hall developed a four-stage model that explains the theory of encoding and decoding of a message. It incorporates the stage of production, circulation, consumption, and reproduction(Kelly 133). Each of these steps affects how the recipient will understand the message and act accordingly. Therefore, these four steps are outlined in accordance to the concert that Pink showcased in 2012 and it was recorded as The Truth About Love Tour: Live From Melbourne.

  1. Production

The first stage of the encoding and decoding model of communication is production that involves the fabrication of the message by the sender. It involves the encoding of a message where the composer extracts ideologies, assembles them in a message, and passes them to the audience. In production, the composer has an image of what the audience should absorb from the message he or she is passing. Hall simply defines production as the stage of constructing the message framing it on the meanings and ideas (92). In light of this, Pink organized her performance in accordance to the message she wanted to pass. According to the musical video on The Truth About Love Tour: Live From Melbourne, Pink worked hard in her production and assembling of her concert. In her performance, she was portrayed dancing behind jail bars with rugged outfit. It also depicted Pink training with a little child who cried consistently and she had to abandon her training to attend to the child. She also showcases a number of moves such as Trapeze and Ballet which are very hard to master. She was filmed soaring on cables that were stretched across the arena while she performed her popular hit song “So What.”The show was full of physical and energized performance through the entire concert. The message that the production team was passing on can be identified at this stage. The notion of practicing with a nagging child shows the three sides of Pink as a human. Pink encodes the message that she is an artist, a wife, and a mother. As an artist, she is busy practicing, composing songs, marketing her music, and performing among other activities of an artist. Her training is disrupted by a crying child showing that she also has motherly responsibilities. She has to leave her “employment” to attend to her child. She also pauses the music in the show and talks to the audience about her father, hobbies, and her husband. She sensitizes the auditorium on the responsibilities of a mother. This shows that the production of the show aims at delivering the message that being an artist and a family person is hard task. She symbolizes the challenges that an artist endures in combining her job and social life. According to Damon, the sender organizes the message with an idea that he or she wants the public to decipher (14).

Similarly, her tour was sponsored by the CoverGirl magazine which used Pink’s image on their cover page. The magazine is entitled to promote and sensitize on the female culture.The sponsorship was timely because Pink had a small child that she was raising. The magazine wanted to show the public that an artist can combine her family and her work effectively. Pink managed to raise the child and produce a new album at the same time. From the production perspective, this was a wake-up call for women who quit their employment to concentrate on families or those who end their marriages to concentrate on career. The Love Tour Concert was very positive and advantageous from the production perspective because it was aimed at addressing the social problems in the modern world. According to Hall, communication is edged at making an impact at each stage (99). Therefore, Pink’s concert was presented as an entertainment and an educational program to the audience.

  1. Circulation

The second stage of communication according to the encoding and decoding model of communication is circulation. Circulation involves the movement or the circulation of information to the audience. It involves the level of connotation of visual signs and written information to communicate (Hall 97). This is the part when the sender uses visual implication to pass the coded message during the production stage. The visual signs are fundamental in disseminating the message in the simplest form. Circulation depends on how the methods that the sender uses to convey the message. In The Love Tour Concert, Pink uses her performance in circulating the message. The visual signs may be interpreted differently based on the ideologies in the specific cultural setting. For Pink, she chose to use electric and energized performance to accompany her message in the music. She managed to learn ballet dancing to enable her to communicate with the Australian audience. As mentioned earlier, Pink portrayed the challenges that she comes across when trying to make her things work. As a result, she uses props such as portable jail bars and rugged clothes to enhance her message. The performance was also full of physical activities that ensured the audience was lively and active. She navigates the stage with cables that propels her on top of the audience where she takes that opportunity to communicate her message.

CoverGirl Magazine takes the opportunity of this concert to circulate their message all over the world. The magazine is published in America where the editors and writers encode their messages on their respective columns. In order to reach a larger audience, probably out of America, they take advantage of such tours to promote their magazine’s publicity. The choice of circulation methods aids in acquiring a market share for a certain product. The magazine made the choice of circulating their stories to different parts of the world. This is because the magazine was being sold during the tour and most of the attendees managed to acquire a copy. Communication largely depends on the mode of channeling the message from the sender to the recipient. Channeling the message is reliance of the mode of circulation that the sender uses.

  1. Consumption

At this stage, the audience plays the responsibility of consuming the message that has been passed. Consumption is the most fundamental stage of this model of communication because it ensures that the recipient has received the message.  It involves decoding the message and it explains the understanding of the audience(Hall 97). The audience generally has feelings and impressions they create after assessing the message. In music concert, the audience can say that the music made them feel emotional, it addressed their social challenges, or even it did not make sense to them. These varied opinions are inevitable when there is a message in communication. The listener or the viewer makes observations, analysis, and their respective conclusion. The conclusion may be in a critique response, review, ratings, or expression that people make in their own social context. However, the audience can make conclusion without analyzing the content of the message, but relying on observations. Consumption of the message is enhanced by the circulation method that the sender employed in distributing the information. In our case, it is a musical concert show and the artist incorporated a number of techniques in disseminating the information. Hall also warns that the audience should not be fooled to judge the message by just appearance but the entire package in communication (96). As a result, the audience can interpret or decode the message in three different ways.  These ways include dominant (hegemonic), negotiated or resistant ways (Branston 412).

Hegemonic or the dominant aspect of decoding a message involves the interpretation by the audience without questions or doubts. The audience accepts the information as it was packaged by the sender, media text or by society at large. This position propagates that the consumer takes the actual meaning directly without edging on one side. In this position, the sender and the consumer have similar ideologies; hence, there is no cultural biasness.The truth About Love Tour received numerous critical responses from different people. Fellow musicians were in the forefront in giving their opinions about Pink’s concert. As expected, they were very positive because they have similar ideologies. Jason Bracelin, an editor from Las Vegas Review-Journal said that Pink was a “girl with a heart of gold (Rose 1).” He opined that Pink performance was full of energy and it was deluxe to watch. They also recommended her vocals and musical talent by Pink. Other musicians were not left behind in sending their accolades to Pink. Their position in decoding Pink’s concert was hegemonic or dominant because they are in similar career. Similarly, Pink’s diehard fans shared the opinion that her performance was impeccable. These are people who attended the concert with a positive position because they love her music. They attended to fulfill their desire by watching her; hence, they consumed the message just the way Pink had packaged it. The concert was also praised by Pop Music Critics such as Sean Daly and Mario Tarradel of Dallas News.

The second position of decoding the message is negotiated where the audience has an array of opinions regarding the message. The reader understands and acknowledges the dominant message, but they are unwilling to accept itor they have a mixture of accepting and rejecting elements. In this position, the audience has the chance of making analysis and evaluation before making conclusions. Damion says that in negotiated position, the audience accepts the message, but they modify it according to their own perspectives (15). Personal experiences and background knowledge about the sender may interfere with how the audience interprets the message. The message just affects viewer’s perceptions and not the values. Critiques will always give a positive or a negative opinion that they raise regarding the information. As usual, The Love Tour attracted an array of negotiated understanding from different people. The dominant message was sensitizing women on working hard and combining their careers with their social lives. It was also meant to encourage people to persevere challenges because every occupation has its own challenges. Pink sent this message by incorporating images in the background screen that communicated her message. She also lectured the audience in order to ensure they get her message clearly.

However, not everyone bought that idea because they had different opinions. To start with, the tour raised approximately $184,061,847 within one year; it also broke the record of the most attended concert in Australia (Rose 1). Some people wondered whyshe showcased sympathy setting in her performance whereas it raised a lot of money. She showcased jail bars and rugged clothes in her concert and she was using a private jet and lavish lifestyle after the concert. Therefore, the critics argued that there was a conflict of interest in the message she was preaching. The CoverGirl magazine was also not spared because they argued that Pink was a first time mother; hence, she was not appropriate for counseling mothers. The acknowledged the fact the show was good and it had a message, but they had various ways of interpreting the message.

Oppositional position is where the audience has superficial understanding of the message, but they decode it differently due to their backgrounds or social-cultural aspects. A good example was the response from the religion community in regards to Pink’s tour. The Muslim faith was irked by her dressing because it was contrary to their belief. In such a situation, they had to interpret her message with a negative attitude. Others were skeptical about her claim of being a caring mother. They argued that the artist is too occupied to attend her child; hence, it was not appropriate for her to compliment others. Therefore, that summarizes the tree positions of information consumption.

  1. Reproduction

Reproduction is the ultimate stage of the model of communication that refers to the action that the audience takes after consuming information. In this stage, the values and the behaviors of the consumer can be influenced by the message(Kelly 144). The audience has already interpreted the message and they can act in accordance to the dominant message or they can modify their perceptions. The production stage of information takes into consideration the recipient so that the message can make an impact. Pink was destined to make an impact to women in her concert and those who viewed her filmed shows. She was also marketing the sponsoring magazine, CoverGirl. The magazine received positive response because it raised the revenue with a significant figure. The reproduction of a message is not easily quantifiable but it depends with the response people give. The Love Tour Concert can be judged by the critics’ responses it received which were mostly positive. The oppositional consumers also argue that the show influenced ladies negatively with their dressing code and their position in the society.  They argued that women should be submissive to men and such shows just promote their ego and disrespect.


The encoding and decoding model of communication is a fundamental aspect of conveying a message because it influences how people interpret and react to the message. Understanding this model of communication is paramount especially in appreciating other cultural settings and backgrounds. This is because they interpret and understand message differently. The four stages are important because they help a person to appreciate the varied responses that people give to an issue or media content. The Truth about Love Tour concert is a perfect example in disseminating how information can be interpreted using the encoding and decoding model of communication. Production is the first stage where the message composer assembles his or her ideas into a compact package thathe or she intends to distribute to the audience. This is where the messenger incorporates all the aspects of composing a message to serve the intended purpose.

After, production, the composer integrates a number of techniques to aid in distributing the information. This stage is referred as circulation of information where Pink chooses dancing, symbolic background images, and relevant props to circulate her message. The third stage is consumption where the audience is at liberty of understanding and decoding the message. Consumers can abide by the original message or modify it in accordance to their perceptions and believes. The last stage is reproduction where the consumer acts upon the message (Branston 412). This is where the consumer has interpreted the message and they respond to it or they can choose to ignore it.  The Love Tour was phenomenal in deciphering how people decode information. Therefore, the encoding and decoding model of communication is fundamental in understanding a message

Works Cited

Branston, Gill and Stafford, Roy .The Media Student’s Book. London: Routledge. 1999%0