Identifying Your Audience – English Comprehension Guide

Identifying Your Audience – English Comprehension Guide

Previously we identified the importance of realising who your audience is and how this is central to shaping not only what you write about but how you write it. In this resource we will look at two pieces of writing and then show how  their intended audience affects the topics they include and the manner in which they are present. This will indicate the aforementioned, the importance of the audience.

TEXT 1:

Simon Cowell is set to return to The X Factor UK as judges will ‘whittle down contestants aboard his luxury yacht’

He quit The X Factor two years ago, but Simon Cowell is set to return as the show goes through a major overhaul following a decline in ratings. 

The 53-year-old music mogul vacated his seat on the judging panel in 2010 to focus on The X Factor USA – with his role on the show effectively ruling him out of making a return. 

But while he won’t be making a comeback Cowell will play a part in series ten by flying judges Gary Barlow, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh and the returning Sharon Osbourne out to his luxury yacht in the Mediterranean. 

There, the group will be filmed discussing which Boot Camp acts go through to the judges houses – the crucial final stage before the show goes live. 

The change in format will also see Cowell tell his judges which acts they’ll be mentoring in person – a conversation that has previously taken place over the phone. 

‘Simon wanted to be involved on screen this year,’ a source told The Sun. 

With filming already underway, the boat meeting will take place while the TV personality is on holiday – however, he’s happy to let sunbathing take a back seat while he mulls over the remaining acts with his four judges. 

But while Cowell’s cameo will delight fans, his role was originally going to have a more significant role in series ten, which begins airing at the end of next month. 

‘We originally intended to do the Boot Camp scenes in Miami and we would likely have had a much bigger role, but that plan didn’t work out so it will again take place at Wembley Arena next month,’ added the source. 

‘The judges will get on a plane to his yacht wherever it is in the Med. He’ll chat through the acts and then dish out the categories.’ 

The show originally went through a major shakeup in 2011 with Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos and Kelly Rowland replacing Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue. 

However the changes led to a sharp decline in ratings, with 10.9 million viewers tuning in to see James Arthur win series nine last December – a drop from the 17.2 million who watched the 2010 finale, Cowell’s last appearance as a judge. 

A spokesman for the show has declined to comment on his return. 

(This article is not the property of John Ryan or StudyNotes.ie)

So who is the audience?

It is a group who are specifically interested in the X-Factor and its inner workings; such people want to know all details about the show, such as exclusive and perhaps controversial material. This also suggests that the audience is youthful, as this is the target demographic of the talent show.

How does this affect the subject matter of the piece?

It focuses on that which a youthful audience interested in the X-Factor would respond to best, gossip: behind-the-scenes, exclusive and secretive material on the show that the readers are fans of.

How does the audience affect the writing of the piece?

As said, a youthful audience usually responds best to simplistic and direct writing, as they appreciate information conveyed quickly and effectively. The writing is therefore simple and to the point, allowing easy access to of the privileged information. Elsewhere tone is secretive, with an unnamed source revealing all; this adds to the appeal of the piece for the reader as s/he believes they are receiving valuable information.


 TEXT 2:

Tallaght, Drogheda have highest level of illicit cigarettes: research finds a third of packets in Dublin suburb are non-domestic 

Tallaght and Drogheda have highest levels of “illicit” cigarette consumption at almost a third, according to the results of a nationwide survey released today.

Some 5,000 discarded cigarette packets were collected from streets and easy access bins of 22 towns in research carried out by marketing company MS intelligence whose major clients include the tobacco industry. It was released by the National Federation of Retail Newsagents in Ireland

On average over a quarter of the discarded cigarette packets (28 per cent) surveyed were non-domestic and not taxed in the State, the survey found. The lowest levels of non-domestic cigarette packets were found in Clonmel (19.6 per cent).

Areas with the highest incidence were Drogheda (32.8 per cent), Tallaght in Dublin (32.8 per cent) and Athlone (32.4 per cent) while levels in Dublin city were 27.4 per cent, Swords was 25 per cent while Dun Laoghaire was 22.6 per cent. Tallaght showed a rise of 4 percentage points since the last survey was carried out six months ago, the Federation said. 

The packets collected were “non-domestic and had no Irish duty paid stamp on them and and so were illegal,” the Federation said. Federation president Joe Sweeney accepted that some could have been brought into the State by holidaymakers returning from abroad. However he believed people were bringing in cigarettes “far in excess of what they need” and using them to “pay for their holiday” by selling to friends and relations.

Mr Sweeney said the scale of the illegal cigarette trade was “destroying local jobs” . Retailers depended “heavily on legal tobacco sales to also drive additional purchases”, he said.

Mr Sweeney said despite some high profile seizures Revenue was only “scratching the surface”. He urged the Government to prioritise a crackdown on illegal trade by giving market and street selling of tobacco “far stiffer penalties”. The survey was carried out between April and June by MS Intelligence 

A report by Italian-based researchers Transcrime last week found that Ireland has the third highest rate of tobacco smuggling in Europe, estimated at between 13 per cent and 29 per cent of all tobacco products. Earlier this month some 10.4million cigarettes were seized by customs officers at Dublin Port after arriving on a container shipped from Rotterdam.

(This article is not the property of John Ryan or StudyNotes.ie)

So who is the audience?

It is an older audience than that for the X-Factor article as the topic of illegal cigarettes would interest a more mature demographic. Children, teenagers, and people in their early twenties would usually not be interested in this topic (that is not to say that some could be – we are being presumptive here for the sake of considering generality and the larger audience).

So how does this shape the piece?

It uses specific facts and details, which a mature audience would expect when dealing with a serious issue such as this. This is as such an audience would not only expect proof of what is being said, but also an in-depth focus on such a serious issue.

How does this affect how the piece is written?

It is written in a neutral and unbiased manner, as the audience would expect restraint and calm; they would not expect a serious issue to be sensationalized due to the need to focus on it in a serious and appropriate manner. The text therefore simply reveals the areas that have the highest rates of illegal cigarettes while not giving an opinion on the findings or exaggerating the problem.


 

We have seen how considering the audience is fundamental to the development of a piece, and hence you should consider this when you write your piece. The key questions you should be asking yourself before you answer the question in the Part B/ composition sections are:

  • What am I being asked to do/ what is the task (and what language type is best for this answer)? (Known as clear appreciation of the task)
  • Who is my audience?
  • How should I write to them (seriously/ humorously, formally/ informally)? (Known as register)
  • What should I write about to them?
  • Does my answer read like the desired written medium (E. g does it read like a letter, speech to a certain audience)?
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About the Author

John Ryan

John has a Masters in Modern English Literature and is the founder of RyJoLC, an educational consultancy based in Dublin that provides English language and curriculum resources to educational institutions worldwide.
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