In one sense it seems obvious that Institution is a key concept. After all, a media text has to be made by somebody, so there is likely to be an institution involved in the process. The study of institutions is very important, however, because this role also shapes the form of any text being made. In order to analyse the relationship between the text and the target audience, we need to think about how this influences both the production and the receiving of the text. You need to be able to identify the institution that has made the text and know enough about that institution to be able to assess how this has affected the way the text is shaped.
What is an Institution?
Put simply, the institution responsible for a text is the body that has made the text. When we looked at the key concept of Audience we noted that the main difference between a mass media text and a fine art text is that a fine art text is produced by an artist with no concern about audience or context for consumption.
While this is obviously very simplistic, it is a good place to start thinking about the role of the institution. Some media institutions are more heavily commercial, while others have a requirement to produce particular types of text, and to support minority audiences, for example. By being aware of how institutions perspectives affect the shaping of a text in this way, you can become better aware of the text itself and the relationship to the target audience.
The shape of a media institution and the texts it creates is usually formed by a trade-off between four crucial influences:
- Money (or lack of it)
- Ownership (and the degree of control this involves)