n Communicatio : South African Journal of Communication Theory and Research - Understanding university student media preferences through the discourses of 'realism' and 'quality'

Volume 30, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0250-0167



This article examines two of the explanatory discourses most often used by the youth in explaining their preferences for local or global media - those of 'realism' and 'quality'. The article explores the 'empiricist' understanding of realism which seeks a correspondence, at a denotative level, between the 'realities' internal and external to the text, and argues that a desire for this correspondence, explains the youth's preference for local productions. However, the article also argues that ironically, in many instances, it is global, rather than local productions which most adequately reflect local lived conditions. The article also explores how many students' preference for global media is premised on the perceived superior 'quality' (understood in terms of production techniques) and that the discourse of 'quality' is one often used by South African media producers to explain the relatively poor state of the local film and television industries. Finally, the article highlights that an attraction to the 'quality' of American productions often coexists with a profound anti-Americanism.

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