As the title suggests, this chapter guides you through debates around those key approaches which have tried, and try now, in very new conditions, to grasp how people respond to and use media forms. A key approach, even though much writing on media still simply assumes that audience ‘reactions’ can be ‘read off’ texts, a much easier process. The ‘effects’, ‘influence’ and ‘uses and gratifications’ models are opened up for scrutiny, especially as they still operate across and beneath the spectrum, from distrust to celebration of new audience/user activity round media.
The many examples explored include the work of the Frankfurt School; cognitive and behaviourist psychological approaches; moral panics; opinion polls; the case of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds radio prank (1938); ‘compassion fatigue’; Facebook and MySpace; the work of the Glasgow University Media Group; the uses of media ethnographies, including those which claim to study ‘virtual’ or internet audiences; digital storytelling, audience boycotts; and fan forms – including Mamma Mia! The Movie (US/UK/Germany 2008).