Reading the Media: Key Concepts
- Choose six different genres of ﬁlm or television programme. For each identify the most likely generic convention for bringing the narrative to a close. Can you think of any texts that deliberately break the genre conventions in terms of narrative closure?
- Choose two examples of ﬁctional television series, such as soaps, and outline the main narrative characteristics of the genre.
- Consider how the representation of a particular group has changed over a period of time. Do you think the change is positive or negative?
- In what ways can the media be influenced to make more positive representations of minority groups?
- How far can it be said that professional working practices in the media lead to negative representations?
- It is argued that genre is a more useful concept to media producers than to media audiences. Do you agree?
- Genre analysis is of little use when considering contemporary media texts. Discuss this statement by drawing on contemporary media texts to support your arguments.
- Consider how one particular media genre has changed over a period of time. How do you account for these changes?
- Create a publicity package for a new ﬁlm or television programme that ﬁts into an existing genre. Your package should contain a range of work including an advertisement and a press release. Identify where these will appear in order to reach the existing audience for this type of genre.
- In what ways can narrative be said to be an important element of non-ﬁction texts? Support your answer with examples from at least two media forms.
- Choose a minority group that is said to be inadequately or negatively represented in the media. Using examples, outline how the group is represented.
- Find examples of texts that exist in different media forms. For example, think of some that started life as computer games. Why do you think these texts lend themselves so well to such intertextuality?
- Consider how your reading of a text is affected by your knowledge of other texts from which borrowing may have occurred.
- Assess the way in which real-life events and news stories are used as the basis for ﬁctional texts.
- Are there any texts created in order to oppose dominant ideological beliefs? If so, in what context are these texts likely to be found? At what type of audience are they aimed?
- Consider some of the ways in which the media have been be used to change ideological beliefs and social attitudes.
- All media texts are ideological. What do you understand by this statement? Illustrate your answer with examples.
- In a media-saturated society in which media technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, how far do you agree with Baudrillard’s notion of the hyper-real?
- Documentaries have to be constructed in just the same way as fictional programmes. How far do you agree with this statement?
- Imagine you are creating a marketing campaign for a ﬁlm, a television series, a radio station or a magazine shortly to be launched. Decide on what you think would be appropriate promotional material. Which media would you use for advertising and promotion?
- What do you understand by the term ‘intertextuality’? Illustrate your answer with examples.
- Do we have reasons to be concerned by the increasing trend towards multinational media?
- Technology continues to move faster than we can keep up with. Where might we be in twenty years' time? Is the notion of a mass audience, viewing the same text at the same time, becoming outdated?
- Consider the impact of legislation and equal-opportunities policies on media representations.
Investigating the Media
- Collect press stories about a celebrity who has been negatively reported in the tabloids. Create a mock-up of a website for that celebrity that would present a more positive representation.
- What information is provided by the British press other than news? Provide examples from a range of newspapers.
- How fair is it to say that most newspapers no longer consistently support either of the two main political parties?
- In what ways has the presentation of television news changed in recent years? How do you account for such changes?
- “Radio news is just television news without pictures.” Discuss with reference to the news output of at least two radio stations.
- What do you understand by the term ‘dumbing down’? Is this an accurate description of recent developments in television news coverage?
- “The tabloid press are concerned only with sensationalism at the expense of reporting real news.” How far do you agree with this statement?
- Most newspapers, both national and local, now have their own website. By carefully comparing an edition of a newspaper with the website, consider the relationship between the two. Consider what advantages each might have for:
- the newspaper industry
- the audience.
- Using your own examples, consider the extent to which advertisers in magazines and television use and manipulate the self-image of potential customers.
- Carry out content analyses of two different newspapers or magazines (for example the Sun and the Daily Telegraph, or Loaded and Cosmopolitan). Identify the range of advertisements that appear in each of them and then compare and contrast the two publications. What differences can you identify and how do you account for these differences? Draw up an audience profile for each publication.
- Consider the consequences, both positive and negative, of the BBC taking advertising.
- (a) Read the section on the Wiltshire Times in the textbook and then look through your local newspaper and ‘measure’ the amount of space that is taken up with advertising. Identify different types of advertising, for example classified, block advertisements, and ‘advertorial’ that looks like editorial but is in fact advertising. (b) Look in Benn's Media or contact the newspaper to see if they will give you some idea of their advertising rates. You can then work out the approximate income that the newspaper receives through advertising revenue.
- Look through the regulation and controls of advertising. Do you think there is too much, or not enough, control and regulation of advertising? How would you change it?
- How has advertising changed in the last ten years? What are the main reasons for these changes?
- Evaluate the success of a particular advertising campaign.
- Imagine you are creating a marketing campaign for a ﬁlm, television series, radio station or magazine shortly to be launched. Decide on what you think would be appropriate promotional material. Which media would you use for advertising and promotion?
- Choosing a particular example, examine the ways in which advertisers use covert techniques such as sponsorship, events, tie-ins, use of celebrities, news management or product placement to promote their products.
Sample Questions on Works of Media Studies Scholarship
In response to one of the questions below, write a well-organized essay about by Walter Benjamin’s, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” W.J.T. Mitchell's "The Work of Art in the Age of Biocybernetic Reproduction," and Sudeep Dasgupta's "Gods in the Sacred Marketplace: Hindu Nationalism and the Return of the Aura in the Public Sphere."
There are two essay options; you are to CHOOSE ONE. In constructing your argument, you will need to provide supporting evidence by discussing specific examples from different chapters. Use quotations to help make your points, but don’t try to use long quotations, since your time is limited. Use parenthetical page number citations wherever you quote or paraphrase. It would be prudent to spend some time (5-10 minutes) organizing your thoughts, thinking through the issues, and deciding on your examples before you begin writing. Make sure your essay responds directly to the specific question you have chosen; a generalized essay about the readings is not acceptable.
For Benjamin, Dasgupta, and Mitchell, cultural texts are symptomatic of specific configurations of media technology and capitalism. Discuss how each author uses textual evidence to support his argument in these two interrelated regards (i.e. technology and capitalism). To properly answer this question you will need to summarize each author's general argument and explain how each one summons textual support to critique historically and culturally situated relations between media technologies and capitalism. Are there differences in their uses of evidence and in the direction of their arguments? Or are they in basic agreement on these matters, even though the later authors clearly appropriate and modify Benjamin?
Dasgupta and Mitchell are both heavily indebted to Benjamin; however, each author modifies the original argument and its key ideas in a variety of ways. Write an essay that details how the later authors appropriate and yet work changes upon the original argument, drawing on specific passages to do so. Draw on Benjamin directly to suggest how he might respond to the use of his ideas. What should the interplay of ideas demonstrated here have to teach contemporary media scholars (particularly those who may not work on Indian media culture or "biocybernetics")?