Media effects on Story

Media (technology, digital media,etc) definitely affects a story’s interpretation, its content, and its construct, but these effects are not necessarily parallel to one another.

Media affects the interpretation of story

The interpretation of a story may either be enhanced or condensed through the choice of media used to deliver it. McLuhan’s insight into the effects of hot and cool mediums makes reference to this, as does anecdotal examples from the suspension of disbelief and other emotional “attachments” that occur when a well-written story is conveyed using effective media. A 15 second narration regarding romantic attraction can be represented visually as a couple locking eyes for 5 seconds. Message received. No narration needed. Effectually, the media becomes more influential on audience involvement than the message itself. Similarly, using background music for technological augmentation of story, one can change the tone of the audio to coincide with the change occurring in the story. This may more effectively alert the viewer that change is occurring, whereas the same tale told by a monotone narrator may not be as readily indicate that change is occurring until considered in the context of other occurrences. The music alone allows for deeper immersion in the story.

Media does not affect the content

Continuing with the example, the content does not have to change. In fact, I would argue that it should not. The basic story elements of life happening, transformation occurring due to a conflict, and life resuming must continue to exist with a crescendo of tension and decrescendo of resolution. The moral of the story must also remain translucent.

Media may affect the construct of story

However, there may be situations that pose a conflict when the story does not align to the limitations of the media. In these instances, one may elect to alter the construct of the story if necessary to facilitate use of the augmenting technology. Otherwise, they risk the possibility of the media detracting from the content and negatively affecting the overall story. If the initial background music from the previous example ends 10 seconds before the change occurs, the story editor is faced with a dilemma and must make a decision regarding the construct of the story. Perhaps 10 seconds of the story- before the change occurs- can be eliminated to better align the media with the message, such as in the example presented previously.

The medium used provide many options to present the same story with variations in construct that affect interpretation and immersion.


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