Skip to Main Content

Media: Meaning & Message: Making Meaning

Medium & Form

  • Medium is the type of media or how the message is being sent, for example: TV, radio, film, podcast, tweet, blog, video game, etc. The medium affects how the message is sent:
    • Feature films are shown in theaters, and take months or longer to create.
    • TV programs are broadcast into homes, and are often part of a series.
    • Tweets are very short, but can be made by almost anyone.
    • Radio and podcasts are audio, so rely on voice, music and sound effects.
  • Form is the kind of message: documentary, story/narrative, satire, advertising, etc. Each medium can have many forms.

Codes & Conventions

Codes are systems of signs that create meaning.

  • Technical codes are the ways in which the technology or equipment is used to create meaning, such as through camera angles and editing.
  • Symbolic codes are elements that show meaning through symbols and function like the "show, don't tell" principle, such as through setting, color schemes, and acting.

Conventions are the generally accepted ways of creating media, and are familiar to the audience. Conventions can be specific to a whole medium or to a specific genre.


Genres are categories of media (or literature or music or art) characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter. Some genres exist across many mediums, such as horror and mystery. Other genres are more specific to one medium, for example, sitcoms and procedural dramas are TV genres.

The Key to Media's Hidden Codes

Digital Prophecies: The Medium is the Message (Marshall McLuhan)