Topic outline

  • Welcome To Media Studies!


  • Media Representations

    Have you ever thought about the way in which you 'read' an image? Take a look at the one attached. How are we supposed to know what it's about or why it's important?

    Polysemic image

    There are clues we can see - something on the floor in the middle? People wearing jackets? Seemingly a cameraman or a photographer?


    The answer is that we don't really know, we can only make the best of the information we have. If this image were to be placed in a newspaper, it would need something written below it to explain it to us. The Media Studies term for this is anchorage. The way in which the meaning of something is never really fixed until we give it some context.

    Take this a step further and we come to the crucial media term construction. When you think about it, everything we see, read or otherwise consume is constructed. Writing a story, adding sad music to a film, taking a selfie - all are subject to a process of construction, in which deciding what to leave out is just as important as what to leave in.

    Why this happens is even more interesting, as we'll see in another activity.

    But for now, go and find a piece of media content (news article, song, film - doesn't matter) and see if you can figure out the choices that the media producer made to create what you are seeing.

  • Media Audiences

    You, the consumer, are the most important person in the world today. Why? Because your choices dictate what you consume.

    Think about it - how do websites know to send you ads about the things you're interested in? How does Amazon or iTunes know to make suggestions of products you might want to buy? How do they find out the ratings for a TV programme? What they are doing is called audience measurement.


    There are 2 ways you can measure audiences: demographically and psychographically. Your demographic profile is a way of categorising you by age, gender, income, race etc. Imagine you were advertising a new brand of trainers? Would this information be good enough for you to know your potential market - and if not, why not?

    Psychographics provides the answer: it uses a model called the 4c's - cross cultural consumer characteristics. What this means is that you are likely to share tastes and likes with quite a lot of people who aren't from the same background as you - so we need to find out why those people make the buying choices they make. It's not simple!

    Make a list of all the things that are important to you in a new set of trainers, then...


  • Media Language

    President George Bush summed up several thousand years of Islamic culture in a press conference after the 9/11 disaster. He called them 'evildoers.' President Trump has a similar way of describing news stories he doesn't like - and the phrase 'fake news' is now in use by thousands of people every day. The brewer Carlsberg can only say that their beer is 'probably' the best lager in the world, because they are prevented by advertising restrictions to say anything more.

    All these are examples of media language at work. We don't notice it until we start to look for it. Why do tabloid newspapers use the headlines they do? Why do advertisers create simple slogans we can remember? Why do horror films make you jump?

    Answer: they use either visual, verbal or printed language to give you subtle clues as to how you should respond. Take a look at this example: the visual language in play here is camera angle, lighting and mood, character, visual clues in the set (whiich we call mise-en-scene - meaning literally everything you can see in the frame.) Have a go at 'reading' this picture in that way, then have a look at our sample lesson on the subject.



  • The Media Industries

    During your lifetime, the media industries (TV, film, music, magazines, web, games etc.) have changed beyond all recognition. Your parents' generation may still watch television to a schedule (e.g the 6 Oclock News) but it's likely that you watch what you want, when you want, or as we call it on-demand.

    This doesn't just happen. All the media industries are focused on giving you this service and have changed or dropped some of their other functions to give you this flexibility. Take the BBC for example. It has always been what we call a public service broadcaster. That means it was required to inform, educate and entertain audiences in equal measure. But under increasing competition from subscription services, what are they to do? Many people are now starting to think that the fact that we have to pay for a licence to watch something we don't want to watch is wrong. But on the other hand if TV in the UK goes entirely commercial won't it go the way of the web (e.g music video, porn, shopping) and what will happen to the 'truth' if it does?


    This is what the BBC has been spending its money on in the recent past. Question: what would you do if you ran the BBC?

  • Practical Work

    This is a current coursework brief being undertaken by our first year Media students. It's worth 30% of the total marks for the course.magazines