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									Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

AS Media Studies (WJEC Board)

Introduction to Media Key Concepts

Look after this booklet we will keep referring to it.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

In AS Media there are two equally weighted modules.

In this unit you will study how texts are constructed, representations and different audience responses. You will explore:  Genre Conventions  Narrative construction  Technical codes  Graphic design  Language and mode of address We will study a range of media texts:            DVD covers Advertisements CD covers Newspaper front pages Magazines Radio sequences Film extracts TV sequences Music videos Websites Computer Game extracts

Assessment 2 ½ hour written examination  Question1: Textual analysis of unseen material  Questions 2 and 3 will be based on representation and audience issues. You will be expected to draw upon the studies of representation and audience response issues done in class.

In this unit you are required to produce three pieces of linked work:    Pre-production (reflecting research and demonstrating planning) A production which has developed from the pre-production (There will be a print and a film choice) A report of 1200 -1600 words.

. Assessment  Pre-production (20)  Production (40)  Report (40)

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

What do we mean by the Media?
Newspapers, internet, magazines, films, TV, radio etc.

Why is it important to study the Media?
    It surrounds us. We use it every day. We rely on it for entertainment & Information. It influences & manipulates us.

What will you learn?
As a media studies student you will learn to analyse the media around you and be critical about what you see and hear. It is important that you understand the following key concepts:      Audience – target audiences, audience consumption, how different people react to media products. Representation – how people and places are portrayed in the media. Are certain people stereotyped or represented in a negative way. Media Language – Narrative, Genre, Codes & Conventions – looking at what certain media products have in common. Learn how to analyse media texts using media language. Institutions – the industries that own and produce media products. Ideology & Messages – the message that the media producers are trying to put across. Audiences can also interpret these messages differently.

The concepts are what we use to discuss media products and the effects they have on audiences; they are what make Media Studies an academic discipline.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Audience Consumption
Let’s start by considering the part media plays in our everyday lives?

Which T.V. programmes do you watch regularly?

What were the last films that you saw?

Do you or your family buy a paper every day? What is it?

Which magazines or comics do you read?

Do you listen to the radio? Which station?

Which Internet sites do you use?

Compare your answers with other members of the class. You should be able to assemble a ‘profile’ of the media tastes in your class. As a group how similar and different are you? There may be programmes that only a few of you dislike or like. Attempt to give some reasons for your likes and dislikes of the various media we have mentioned. What we have begun to establish are the reasons why we consume the media. The fact is that our reasons for consumption are not as clear cut as merely ‘enjoyment’. We read a newspaper to find out what is going on in the world but our choice of newspaper is important - there are other reasons for reading newspapers This idea of why we make the choices we do has particular repercussions for those people on the other side of the equation - the producers. They are there to ‘serve’ their audience, and all that they produce has a clear sense of the audience at whom it is aimed. This is known as audience profiling.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Audience Profiling
No media product is put together without some idea of the audience that is going to see, read or hear it. Media audiences are defined and approached in a number of ways: Demographic profiling refers to concrete variables; for example the age, gender, class, geographical area of an audience The Jicnar Scale is a scale used to define the social class that someone belongs to. This classification is done by occupation. Many media organisations use this when attempting to profile the potential audience for their media texts. Jicnar (Joint Industry Committee for Newspaper Advertising Research). National Readership surveys originally designed to investigate magazine and newspaper sales distribution based on class and occupation. Group A (Professionals) Upper middle class, e.g. Barristers Group B (Managerial) Middle class, e.g. Bank Managers Group C1 (Non-Manual) Lower middle class, white collar workers, e.g. Office Workers Group C2 (Manual) Skilled working class, Blue collar workers, e.g. Car Mechanic Group D (Partly Skilled) Semi or unskilled manual workers, e.g. Assembly line worker Group E (Unskilled) Casual workers or dependent on state benefits Psychographic profiling considers an audience not in terms of age, but in terms of hopes, aspirations, needs and desires. An advertiser may categorise an audience in terms of those that aspire to a richer lifestyle or those who want to make the world a better place. Obviously when we build a profile in this way we do often refer to stereotypes, but the producers of media - those who make television programmes, print newspapers, publish magazines etc, all have a clear sense of the audience at which they are aiming. You would be considered part of the youth audience.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 Here’s a list of media texts. Try to predict what other tastes the consumers of these media texts might have. Consider their possible tastes in food, drink, mode of transport etc. Media texts Nuts Magazine Other Tastes


Closer Magazine

Guardian Newspaper

Sun Newspaper

Discuss the Demographic and Psychographic profiles of the target audience for the following adverts.

Demographics: Psychographics:

Demographics: Psychographics:

Demographics: Psychographics:

Demographics: Psychographics:

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Demographics: Psychographics:

Demographics: Psychographics:

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 In the exam you will be required to explore how different audiences respond to media texts. We will examine audience theories.

Audience Theories
Uses and Gratification Model is concerned with what people do with the
media. (Active Audience) Blumer, McQuail and Brown identified four major types: Reinforce personal identity by comparing our own roles with similar roles in the media. Need for companionship and interaction The need to be informed. The need for entertainment and diversion.

Encoding/Decoding Model put forward by Stuart Hall and David Morley
centred on the idea that audiences vary in their response to media messages because of their social position, gender, age, ethnicity, occupation, experience and beliefs. Hall and Morley argue that media texts are encoded in such a way as to present a preferred reading to the audience but the audience does not necessarily accept that preferred reading. Hall categorised three kinds of audience response. Dominant – the audience agree with the dominant values. Negotiated – the audience generally agree with the dominant values expressed within the preferred reading but they may disagree with certain aspects according to their social background. Oppositional – the audience disagree with dominant values expressed within the preferred reading of the text.

Hypodermic Syringe model – this theory asserts that the media are
powerful agents of influence, capable of ‘injecting’ ideas and behaviours directly into relatively passive audiences of isolated individuals. Children and teenagers are consistently been considered susceptible to the harmful influence of popular entertainment. From time to time moral panics have been generated, often orchestrated by the media, especially the tabloids. The heightened social concerns associated with moral panics usually stimulate more stringent controls over the media to protect the ‘innocent’. Concern over young people’s access to violent videos became an issue in the 1980s. The 1983 Video Recordings Act was passed. This introduced strict regulation of videos via the British Broad of Film Classification. However, concerns rose again in the early 1990s. A number of highly publicised crimes of aggression in which a violent film was implicated (most notably the linking of the James Bulger murder with a video, Child’s Play) resulted in further restrictions being enacted in 1994. This document is available on the media website: www.media4xav.org.uk -8-

Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Representation is about:  How social groups, different subcultures, occupations, ages, social classes, races and places are portrayed in the media.  How audiences interpret these portrayals. You will examine a range of representations of:  Gender  Ethnicity  Age  Issues  Events  Regional & National Identities representations. It is possible to see representation as divided into three levels.  At the most general level we can talk about something called type. We recognise a category of character in a story, such as shopkeeper type. But for some reason this character does not emerge as a stereotype. It may be that, that particular character lacks a clear set of characteristics reinforced by years of repetition. A stereotype is a simplified representation of human appearance, character and beliefs. A stereotype becomes established through years or representation in the media. Countries and even whole continents are often represented in the media in a stereotypical way. Consider, for example, the most common media representations of Africa, which is often presented through images of starvation and war. The most intense examples of types are also deeply embedded in our culture. The term archetype is defined as an ‘original model’ or a ‘mental image inherited by all; a recurrent symbol or motif’. We can take it to mean characters – heroes, heroines and villains – that stand for the deepest beliefs, values and perhaps prejudices of a culture.



Essentially the discussion of representation enables the audience to ask questions about how certain media texts present the world as we know it back to us. Studying representation reminds us of how we are given information and ideas about the world. It is a ‘political’ term that enables us to study the ways in which certain ideas and values are either restricted or opened up for wider interpretation.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Choose a person who has a high profile in the media and describe that person.

(These images are available on powerpoint.)

The media represents to us people and places that we have never seen or met and we feel like we know them. Certain people live their lives through the media and their images are carefully manufactured in order to promote them and sell products. The media can build someone into a huge star, but can just as easily destroy that same person.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Teenage Types Emo, Nu Raver, Goth, Punk, Skinhead, Indie Kid, Scally etc.

(These images are available on powerpoint)

In pairs choose one of the teenage types. How is this group stereotyped? Write a description under the headings: Appearance


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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Ideology = ideas, values and beliefs in a society. These are often taken for granted and seen as ‘commonsense’. However, ideas, values and beliefs are not static; they evolve and develop over time. Dominant Ideology = although societies are made up of people with different ideas and values, there is always a dominant ideology. Dominant ideology = ideas and values of those in power. Ideology is broadly influenced by the ideas of Karl Marx (1818-83). Marx wrote extensively about ideology in the mid-nineteenth century. His ideas became the basis for much political action in the twentieth century. For Marx the process of learning about the world produced a ‘false consciousness’, the ideas fitted together in such a way that they masked the reality of the individual’s position in the world. Why, he wondered did the working class put up with poverty and misery when their rulers enjoy wealth and fulfilment. Marx noted under capitalism, the individual workers were kept in their places not only by force but also by an ideology that evolved under capitalism. The capitalists succeeded in convincing most of the population that private profit was good for society, and argued that poor people were poor because they were lazy not because they were socially disadvantaged. Marx set out a view of human history conceived as a struggle to control means of producing wealth, primarily waged at the political and economic level. His work on ideology also suggested another type of struggle to defend or challenge the dominant ideas in society. In media studies the term hegemony is associated with the Italian theorist and political activist, Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). He emphasised that the control of society by one group or one set of political ideas was not necessarily achieved by force or control of arms, but by persuasion and consent – the basis for democracy. The rulers manage to convince the mass population that they are ‘better off’ accepting current government policies. Maintaining hegemonic control is thus a process of constantly reinforcing the message and developing the argument. It could be argued that ‘hegemonic power’ is exerted by the Hollywood studios through their overseas trade organisation, the MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America). The studios ‘occupy’ most countries by owning cinemas and distributors, usually in partnership with local companies. This can ensure that their films get shown. The studio also ‘persuades’ us that their films are the best and that we have a right to see them. Nobody forces audiences to watch American films, but in reality they have little choice since Hollywood dominates the film industry.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 Ideology & Film It is important to consider the value messages in films and decide whether films reflect or challenge the dominant ideology. (These are available on powerpoint) One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961)

Anti-fur The overall message is one of direct action. The dogs stick together and beat the evil Cruella de Vil. Radical or conservative?

Happy Feet (2006)

Humans are destroying the planet. The elders represent old fashioned ideas. In the end Mumble triumphs.

Radical or conservative?

Cinderella (1950)

Woman’s liberation clearly still had a long way to go in 1950. The female stereotypes and roles are reinforced. Women can only find happiness through marriage. The prince rescues Cinderella. Radical or conservative?

Choose a film you are familiar with and write down the ideological messages.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Institutions are the media industries that own, control and produce media texts. In media studies it is important to consider:  The institutional source of the text.  In what ways has the text been influenced or shaped by the institution that produced it?  Is the source a public service or commercial institution? What difference does this make to the text?  Who owns and controls the institution concerned and does this matter?  How has the text been distributed? The Hollywood Film Industry Although films are important sources of cultural meaning, they also share many characteristics with other industrial commodities like cars or washing powder, eg. Assembly-line production, research & development, and marketing, etc. For example, The ‘LOTR’ trilogy cost just under $300m. With such high financial stakes the film industry tries to maximise its risks with an increasing tendency to produce sequels. They also try to take control of the market by Vertical Integration, i.e. taking over companies who run different stages of the production cycle, eg. Viacom own Paramount Pictures who make films; Paramount TV which can show them (and owns the merchandising rights eg. ‘Star Trek’ games, toys, theme park rides); Blockbuster to distribute the video, and VH1 to promote the soundtrack. This selling of similar, compatible products at the same time is known as synergy. Often the greatest profits come from merchandising, eg. ‘Star Wars’ products have earned more than $3b.  Universal (films & music) are part of Vivendi which also owns Seagrams, one of the biggest drinks companies in the World.  Twentieth Century Fox is owned by News Corporation which also owns Fox TV, The Sun, The Times and BSkyB (www.newscorp.com).  Sony owns Columbia and DreamWorks.  The World’s biggest entertainment conglomerate is AOL/Time Warner.

Hollywood Studio System During the 1920s five major companies – Paramount Film Corporation, MetroGoldwyn-Maker, Warner Brothers, Radio Pictures Incorporated (RKO), Fox Film Corporation and three other non-vertically integrated companies – Universal Pictures, Columbia and United Artists had a virtual monopoly over the film industry. Profits were enormous, but so were costs. Studio systems increasingly came under the control of bankers and businessmen. The eighteen-year period of Hollywood’s unrivalled studio system (1930-1948) can be best summed up as follows. Each studio had a general overseer, and its own stars, scriptwriters, directors and designers which led to a ‘house look’. Hollywood produced six hundred films a year on an assembly-line process. This document is available on the media website: www.media4xav.org.uk - 14 -

Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 Although each company followed similar production practices, they tended to specialise in certain genres and cultivated a distinctive look. Fox Film Corporation/20th Century Fox was established in 1913 by William Fox. In 1935 a small production company, 20th Century merged with Fox and the company was renamed 20th Century Fox. In the 1930s Fox produced popular musicals. After 1948, Fox turned to location shooting and made westerns and ‘realistic’ crime films. Fox is now owned by Rupert Murdoch. Paramount produced mainly comedy. Warner Brothers rationalised its production into assembly-line production methods, low-budget movies and strict shooting schedules. They made mainly gangsters and backstage musicals because they were cheap to produce. Social realism and political relevance made Warners’ films popular with working class audiences. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the studio of glamour and stars and produced glossy glittering films such as ‘The Wizard of Oz’. RKO is not associated with a specific genre, although along with its prestige movies (‘Notorious’, Hitchcock, 1946 & ‘Citizen Kane’, Orson Wells, 1941), it did produce B-movies, particularly film noir and horror. During the 1930s Universal specialised in the horror genre (Frankenstein & Dracula, 1931), primarily because they were inexpensive to make. In 1948 the majors suffered a reversal in fortune with the supreme CourtParamount decision. Exhibitors wanted to put an end to the film industry’s monopoly over exhibition. The major companies were ordered to stop restrictive practices and block-booking in the exhibition of their films. This decision opened the door to independent film.

United States is still seen as the world's major commercial producer of motion pictures. United International Pictures, for example, is a joint venture of Universal and Paramount, which owns distribution facilities in as many as 37 different countries including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan, as well as in less lucrative territories like Hungary, Chile, Peru, the Philippines, and Thailand. Twentieth-Century Fox owns 21 foreign distribution facilities in an equally diverse set of countries. In territories where the majors do not actually own a distribution network outright they frequently enter into joint ventures or long-term agreements with local distribution companies. Exports of Hollywood motion pictures have always depended in significant ways on strong political support from Washington. Federal bureaucracies

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 have continually pressed foreign governments to open their doors more widely to American films, with beneficial effects not only in terms of export earnings, but also of the direct and indirect developmental impacts on Hollywood itself. Over the years, Hollywood has received abundant help from the US State Department, the Commerce Department, and other agencies of federal government in promoting its products abroad. Given the appeal of United States' entertainment products to mass audiences all over the world, the country will probably continue to maintain a strong lead as an exporter of motion pictures for the foreseeable future. There are signs, however, that some important shifts may be happening. Producers in London, Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Mexico City, Mumbai/Bollywood, Sydney, and so on, are all in various ways making efforts to improve their market performance and to compete internationally.

Read the information above and answer the following questions. In your own words explain vertical Integration?

When did Hollywood studio management emerge?

Name the genres associated with the major companies.

What happened to the monopoly of the major companies in 1948?

How does USA stand to today in the film market?

Why do you think the US government is keen to help the US film industry?

Do you think there are any serious threats to America’s dominance? (one word answers are not acceptable.)

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Media Language
Media language is about giving you the tools to analyse media texts. We will consider:  Genre Conventions  Narrative Construction  Technical Codes – Film (camerawork, lighting, editing, sound)  Technical Codes – Print (Graphics, Layout & Design)  Language Used and mode of Address

Genre is the classification of any media texts into types or categories. Each genre can be identified by a range of elements which allow us both to recognise the particular genre and to expect certain things to occur within it. These elements are commonly known as conventions. If we say that we like westerns or sit-coms people will share these expectations and instantly recognise what we mean when we say we like them. Write down as many genres in films and TV programmes as you can think of. Do they all fit conveniently into a genre or can you say that there is a mixture of genres taking place? Look at your list of genres.  How did you recognise them?

Conventions Conventions are really ideas that we all share about particular genres. We would be unlikely to see all of the conventions in any one film, TV programme or magazine. But we would expect to find a few of them and would be disappointed if they were not there. You could say that part of our pleasure in a media text comes from knowing what might happen next whilst still having the possibility that our expectations may be wrong.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 What are the conventions of the following genres?

Media Text Science Fiction







Narrative is a term used to describe the devices and conventions used to organise a story into sequence. There are different types of narrative structures.    Linear Narrative = A plot that moves forward in a straight line without flashbacks or digressions. E.G Parallel Action = A narrative device in which two scenes are observed at once. E.G Anti-Narrative = Describes a text which seeks deliberately to disrupt narrative flow in order to achieve a particular effect, such as the repetition of images or the disruption of a chronological sequence of events. E.G

Two theories of narrative were proposed by Vladimir Propp and Tzvetan Todorov. Both approaches are different ways of approaching the structure of media texts. Vladimir Propp examined folk tales and identified eight character roles. These are:  The Hero (seeks something)  The Villain (opposes the hero)  The Donor (helps the hero by providing a magic object)  The Dispatcher (sends the hero on his way)  The False Hero (falsely assuming the role of hero  The Helper (gives support to the hero)  The Princess (the reward for the hero, but also needs protecting from the villain)  The Father (who rewards the hero)

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 According to Propp’s theory, identify and explain the character roles in your chosen film. Name of Film:

Tzvetan Todorov suggested that most narratives start with a state of equilibrium in which life is ‘normal’ and protagonists happy. This state of normality is disrupted by an outside force, which has been fought against in order to return to a state of equilibrium. EQUILIBRIUM Established state Of affairs DISRUPTION An event disrupts the order EQUILIBRIUM A return to equilibrium although this is not the same as at the start

Apply Todorov’s narrative structure to a film of you choice.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9

Textual Analysis
Analysing images in print and visual media is the search for meanings beyond what we actually see in the image. (Magic Eye powerpoint) Two simple instructions can help you to organise and develop an individual image analysis:

SIGNIFIER -- what is literally ‘in the picture’, such as colours or shades of black and white. These is also known as denotation SIGNIFIED - the different interpretations which might be associated with a picture. For example, a colour has a number of possible connotations; green may be associated with envy, nature or eco-friendliness. This is also known as connotation. What connotations do we associate with these signifiers? Signifier A Rose Pair of handcuffs The Colour Green A White swan Spectacles A Pair of Slippers Signified

Remember that signifiers can often have multiple connotations. The actual meaning depends on the specific text, its purpose and other factors such as any written language that appears in the text. When an image or an individual signifier has more than one meaning we say that it is polysemic. Textual analysis is the taking apart of a media product or text. It involves asking questions about a media text and trying to find answers from within it. It is also about recognising patterns in things, for example, how similar programmes such as the News use similar methods to communicate meaning.

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Xaverian College Media Studies 2008-9 All visual and print media draw heavily upon images in order to put across what they want to say. All media texts have a Preferred Meaning (sometimes called reading), they are constructed to encourage the audience towards one particular interpretation. For example by lighting a shot in a particular way or placing a camera above a subject, or by designing a set, or editing a film rapidly ( to create a sense of excitement) the producers can try to influence how an audience thinks or feels. Images can also be cropped, this means cutting a picture to focus on a particular part. Cropping an image can change the meaning of an image. Many of the images we will see are accompanied by written language. This is especially true of print advertising. The relationship between the visual image and the text can greatly alter our initial perception of the image; this is how much of advertising creates its impact. Using a caption to fix the meaning of an image is called Anchorage. You can see that image analysis asks you to look at visual images in an entirely different manner than in real life, but it is also only really asking you to make clear ideas that you would just normally accept without thought - it’s a way of breaking down a text to reveal just what the producer of the image wanted his or her audience to think

Choose an image and explain the following:



How could you change the adding different captions or cropping the image?

We will now look at media language in more detail.

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