Sunday, 29 May 2011

WeMedia and Democracy Exam questions

As we saw last Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

How far can the media in 2010 be considered to be democratic?
Assess the claim that the media is becoming more democratic.
Discuss the meanings of the term ‘we media.’
Explore the claim that the ‘new’ media are more democratic than the ‘old’ media.
What is ‘we media’ and what difference does it make to citizens?
‘We get the media we deserve.’ Discuss, in relation to the role of media in a democracy.


So as you can see, several previous questions focus on old media v new media, some on what might be defined as wemedia and some very specifically on notions of democracy.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• What are ‘We Media’?
• Where / how has ‘We Media’ emerged?
• In what way are the contemporary media more democratic than before?
• In what ways are the contemporary media less democratic than before?


The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:
‘homegrown’, local, organic and potentially counter- cultural media
(eg blogging and digital film uploading and sharing)
You could compare potentially alternative / progressive ‘we media’ examples with other examples of more orthodox production and ownership models
you should know a bit about the history of such media before the web (fanzines, pamphlets, radical documentaries, etc)

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

For this topic, since a lot of what you look at is likely to be online, a comparison between online media and any form of traditional media (newspapers, broadcast news, film) would ensure you quickly meet the criteria for no.1

For no.2, the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. This really should not be a problem when using online media, and to be honest I think you could use material from the last few months to construct a really good answer!

And for no.3 you should have a range of writers that you could use- for example Dan Gillmor who coined the term 'We Media'or sceptics of the power of social media such as Evgeny Morozov or some of the advocates of people power through social media such as Clay Shirky

There are points on my post about doing the online age option in the exam which would be quite useful here too and if you look at the posts I did previously such as this one on fans or this one on music or this on video games you might find them useful. In all cases, you should be looking for case studies which raise questions about how much the web and social media appear to offer more democratic options for the audience than what was there before. The work of Graeme Turner is quite useful for offering a critique of many assumptions about democracy and new media. You can preview his book here.

For this topic, it is likely you will look at news and citizen journalism, but you could also look at media such as reality TV and shows where ordinary people get to be stars through public participation (the 'democracy of texting'). You could also look at the creative options open to ordinary people such as youtube and how far this really does represent a change. David Gauntlett's work on creativity would be useful here.

Postmodernism exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

What is meant by ‘postmodern media’?
Why are some media products described as ‘postmodern’?
Explain how certain kinds of media can be defined as postmodern.
Explain why the idea of ‘postmodern media’ might be considered controversial
“Postmodern media blur the boundary between reality and representation.” Discuss this idea with reference to media texts that you have studied.
Discuss why some people are not convinced by the idea of postmodern media.


So as you will notice, the questions may focus on what postmodernism is and how you apply ideas about it to examples, but also to why there is an argument about the term itself. I suspect if you have studied this topic, you will have been introduced to the debates around it and have the ability to apply definitions to examples, but I'll point you in the direction of some useful material here too.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• What are the different versions of post-modernism (historical period, style, theoretical approach)? (first and fourth questions above)
• What are the arguments for and against understanding some forms of media as post-modern? (possibly all six questions!)
• How do post-modern media texts challenge traditional text-reader relations and the concept of representation? (first, second, third and fifth questions)
• In what ways do media audiences and industries operate differently in a post-modern world? (quite a hard one, maybe a bit of the third and fifth ones)



The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:

How post-modern media relate to genre and narrative
computer / video games, virtual worlds, augmented reality and and new forms of representation,
post-modern cinema,
interactive media,
social media and social networking,
reality TV,
music video,
advertising,
post-modern audience theories,
aspects of globalisation,
parody and pastiche in media texts or a range of other applications of post-modern media theory.

It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. you might compare and contrast examples from film and TV or from games and the web.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. There were a number of answers last year which were dominated by older examples, so beware of this if you are writing about games or the web, you can be pretty up to date, but the same is true of examples from TV, music video or cinema. This is not to stop you referring to historical examples, just encouraging an emphasis on recent ones. For the point about the future, you could say something about how as we all live more of our lives online, more and more texts take on elements of postmodernism.

For 3. You will hopefully have been introduced to some theory and your teachers will have tried to make it accessible- some key names are Baudrillard and Lyotard and their ideas are summarised quite neatly here

Media Magazine published an excellent article in MM22 about postmodernist texts a couple of years back by Richard Smith. I've uploaded the pdf so you can find it easily here


Have a read of it and then try a little exercise using the resources my colleague Nick Potamitis created here - the postmodernist advent calendar!


Click on each picture in turn and identify what the media text actually is; each one has at some time been described as 'postmodern'. Using Smith's article, work out what it is about the text that makes it postmodern. Then find three CONTEMPORARY examples of your own and do the same thing.

By the way, if you don't know what some of the 30 examples on the calendar are, I'll be posting the answers on slideshare!

Oh and here's a great example of postmodernism in action...



Later today: final exam advice- WeMedia and Democracy

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Media in the Online Age exam questions



As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

“The impact of the internet on the media is revolutionary”. Discuss.
“For media audiences, the internet has changed everything.” Discuss
“The impact of the internet on the media is exaggerated”. Discuss.
Discuss the extent to which the distribution and consumption of media have been transformed by the internet
Explain the extent to which online media exist alongside older methods of distribution in 2010.
Evaluate the opportunities and the threats offered to media producers by the internet.


Questions tend to focus on what difference the internet has made ('revolutionary', 'changed everything', 'exaggerated', 'transformed''opportunities and threats') but also looking at audiences and producers. So long as you read the question carefully to see which angle it is looking for, you shouldn't have a problem. However, this focus on 'difference' does mean you have to be thinking about what the media was like pre-internet.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to see what kinds of question can come up:

• How have online media developed? (change from the past)
• What has been the impact of the internet on media production? (does it allow more people to produce their own media? what effect has it had on mainstream media?)
• How is consumer behaviour and audience response transformed by online media, in relation to the past? (audiences and the difference the internet has made)
• To what extent has convergence transformed the media? (technology's impact- mobile devices, tv online, etc)


the kinds of thing you could talk about would include:
music downloading and distribution,
the film industry and the internet,
online television,
online gaming and virtual worlds,
online news provision,
various forms of online media production by the public or a range of other online / social media forms.



It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. Different types of media online count, so the fact that you are talking about say, music downloading and people making youtube videos would tick the boxes for two media, even though they are both online.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. I'd urge you to make it even more recent than that- say the time you have been doing the course, as the web changes so fast. Talking about the future for this topic is easy- you can speculate about how your chosen examples might develop in the future- what next after facebook? what can you see happening with mobile media? how will traditional media cope with further spread of fast wireless connections? Some good speculation on this you could use is here

For 3. you need some critics/writers who have developed ideas about online media. I'll be recommending some below.

Over the past two years, I've blogged a lot about media in the online age, with a huge range of examples on which you could draw.

Alan Partridge's web series is a good case study of how TV might adapt for the web and it would make a good comparison with Dub Plate drama, designed specifically with the web in mind, with its alternative endings which could be voted for via TV or MySpace. there is a further blog on microseries here. If you used these in an answer, you'd need a second case study which linked with a different medium, perhaps something like Twitter.A second piece on Twitter is here.

For theorists, I blogged last year to introduce some useful writers, Find them here. A useful revision activity would be to watch the BBC Virtual revolutions series, which I blogged about here. I've also posted stuff about changing technology here and on how audiences are collaborating to make videos online here and on Michael Wesch's analysis of online production and internet memes.

So there is plenty of material! The main thing is to narrow down what you intend to use and to have some arguments to make around it. Look at the previous questions and decide which of the examples you want to draw upon would work with them and what kind of argument you would want to make.

Oh and here is the story behind a great bit of up to date online age stuff!

Lady gaga


Good article about claims that the internet is like the Wild west


Tomorrow: Postmodernism!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Collective Identity Exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

Analyse the ways in which the media represent any one group of people that you have studied.
With reference to any one group of people that you have studied, discuss how their identity has been ‘mediated’.
Analyse the ways in which the media represent groups of people.
“The media do not construct collective identity; they merely reflect it”. Discuss.
“Media representations are complex, not simple and straightforward”. How far do you agree with this statement in relation to any one group of people that you have studied?
What is collective identity and how is it mediated?


So as you will notice, the questions may focus on how representations are constructed (or how the media mediate representation/identity) but you also need to consider how people read or make sense of those representations and how groups of people might construct their own identity (e.g. online through social media). The last two questions above essentially cover the same territory, but ask you to reflect upon it in a slightly different way- a quote in a question usually means here is something you can argue with- and you should. I would argue that the media never simply 'reflect' reality but construct a representation of it, so there would be something to really get your teeth into! And a look at contrasting representations of a particular group would allow you to explore the complexity, as indicated in the last question.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to relate them to the questions set so far:

• How do the contemporary media represent nations, regions and ethnic / social / collective groups of people in different ways?
• How does contemporary representation compare to previous time periods?
• What are the social implications of different media representations of groups of people?
• To what extent is human identity increasingly ‘mediated’?


The kinds of thing you might use as case studies include:

national cinema,
television representations,
magazines and gender,
representations of youth and youth culture,
representations of different ethnic and cultural groups
sexuality, gender, disability

It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. you might compare and contrast examples from film and TV or from newspapers and social media.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. There were a number of answers last year which were dominated by older films, so beware of this!

For 3. you need some critics/writers who have developed ideas about representation and identity. In previous posts on this topic, I referred to several useful theorists in relation to youth as a case study. Have a look at those posts as you should find plenty of use!

You can't cover everything in this exam, as you only have an hour, so you need to be selective and very systematic in your answer. Have case study examples which really illustrate the kinds of points you want to make.

The ultimate best link for this topic is Dave's Collective identity Blog, which is terrific for a case study of Youth.



Tomorrow: Media in the online Age

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Global Media exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

What impact does the increase in global media have on media audiences?
What impact does the increase in global media have on media production?
What impact does the increase in global media have on local identity?
To what extent are the media now more global than local or national?
Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalisation of the media.
Discuss the idea that the media is becoming increasingly global.


As you can see, though there is some variation between questions, some have very similar wording. However, don't get a shock if the wording is different in the exam this summer! There is a limit to how many questions can be on 'impact'!

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to see what kinds of question can come up:

• What kinds of media are increasingly global in terms of production and distribution? (production question above)
• How have global media developed, in historical terms, and how inclusive is this trend in reality? (questions on audiences and local identity above)
• What kinds of audience behaviour and consumption are increasingly global? (audiences above)
• What are the arguments for and against global media, in relation to content, access,
representation and identity? (probably the last three above)

the kinds of thing you are expected to know about would include:
film: debates around cultural imperialism- why do countries need their own cinema rather than just US products?
television and national versus imported broadcasting- what difference does having your own national tv stations make?
national press in relation to global news provision- do you get different stories or different versions of stories in local national media?
media marketing aimed at cross- national territories- how media products are global
examples of media that contradict theories of globalisation
other examples of global media practices.

It is pretty open in terms of what you might have studied, so I would expect answers to draw upon very different case study material.

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

So for 1. you might have one online case study example and one about cinema, or one about news in the press and one about news on TV.

For 2. the main thing is to ensure you have a majority of material from the past five years. If you are stuck for this, have a look at the Cuba Tweets case study below. For some reference to the future, you could talk about how globalisation is likely to continue as more and more material goes online and connections get faster and more countries have wider web access and speculate a little about what this might mean.

For 3. you need some critics/writers who have developed ideas about global media- there are a lot of people you could draw upon, so hopefully you have studied some with your teachers.

You can't cover everything in this exam, as you only have an hour, so you need to be selective and very systematic in your answer. You need to ask yourself what you do and don't understand and to concentrate on improving those areas you are going to write about and having examples to back up your points.


Cuba Tweets Case study- over the past few weeks, Julian McDougall has been tweeting useful links which could be used in a case study in the exam for Global media (although WeMedia and Online Age would probably work too). Follow him on twitter to catch them all, but here are some of his links- no need to use them all, but you'll learn a lot just by reading/watching it all!:

Cuban Media tweet-study starting point = Democracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=poO5BgU2PZo&feature=related
Cuban Media tweet-study: Rough Guide on Media in Cuba: http://tiny.cc/4hw3n
Cuban Media tweet-study: Richard Gott on Cuba + US: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/02/barack-obama-cuba-fidel-castro
Cuban Media tweet study - Granma (state controlled newspaper): http://www.granma.cu/ingles/
Cuban Media tweet study - Accessible Chomsky to 'apply' to contemporary Cuba: http://tinyurl.com/4jyfe7o
Cuban Media tweet study - Internet in Cuba: http://opennet.net/sites/opennet.net/files/cuba.pdf
Cuban Media tweet study: Strawberry and Chocolate: https://www.msu.edu/~colmeiro/alea.html Important film for Cuba, identity, tolerance.
Cuban Media tweet study: Cuba Va (young Cubans, self-representation, identity - 1990s). http://history.sundance.org/films/204
Cuban Media tweet study - state use of internet: http://monthlyreview.org/castro/
Cuban Media tweet study: Castro on Wikileaks http://links.org.au/node/2049 + recommend Jose Bell Lara's work for gobalisation / Cuba.
Cuban Media tweet study - more 'global' context: http://cubasolidaritycampaign.blogspot.com/2011/02/cuban-revolution-in-21st-century-by.html
Cuban Media tweet study - Generacion Y blog: http://tinyurl.com/6cw74mj Acclaimed 'citizen journalist' from Cuba.
Cuban Media tweet study - Venegas, recommended: http://www.lybrary.com/digital-dilemmas-state-individual-digital-media-cuba-p-75237.html
Cuban Media tweet study: Classic theory to 'apply': http://www.openculture.com/2010/04/marshall_mcluhan_the_world_is_a_global_village_.html
Cuban Media tweet study: Literacy levels in Cuba (important context for global media etc): http://tinyurl.com/5u52skc
Cuban Media tweet study: Cuban film, ideology, history: http://www.publicacions.ub.es/bibliotecaDigital/cinema/filmhistoria/Art.%20Mraz.pdf
Cuban Media tweet study: Guerilla Radio (the Cuban Hip Hop "struggle under Castro"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-rDkhIvR_4
Cuban Media tweet study: Wendy Chun 'Control + Freedom' - good framework to apply to Cuban internet: http://tinyurl.com/3du89j4
Cuban Media tweet study: Elian - article on 'virtualisation': http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0411/16-allatson.php
Cuban Media tweet study: telenovellas (soaps) as springboard for public debate - http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42978
Cuban Media tweet study: re Generacion Y (see previous tweet)
http://cubarights.blogspot.com/2011/05/cuban-blogger-pays-price-for-her.html
TOMORROW: Collective identity

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Contemporary Media Regulation exam questions

As we saw on Sunday, these are the previous questions set for this topic:

How effectively can contemporary media be regulated?
To what extent is contemporary media regulation more or less effective than in previous times?
Evaluate arguments for and against stronger regulation of the media
How far do changes to the regulation of media reflect broader social changes?
Discuss the need for media regulation
To what extent can the media be regulated in the digital age?


As you can see, though there is some variation between questions, you should not have a shock when you turn up for the exam! Two of the previous questions refer to 'effectiveness' - in other words, does regulation work? A third asks something very similar- 'to what extent can it be regulated?' and two of them ask you to look at the arguments around regulation- why do people believe it is needed and 'for and against'.

One way or another, this summer's questions should be in similar territory. Even if you get something which appears to go off at a tangent- like the question of how far it 'reflects social changes', you should be able to adapt your response based on the material you have studied.

If we look at the bullet points in the Specification, which defines what should be studied, we should be able to see what kinds of question can come up:

• What is the nature of contemporary media regulation compared with previous practices? (Past v Present)
• What are the arguments for and against specific forms of contemporary media regulation? (what do people say- note this is not asking for your opinion, but for you to weigh up the arguments of others!)
• How effective are regulatory practices? (does it work?)
• What are the wider social issues relating to media regulation? (put regulation in the wider context of society)

So we can see, all those areas have come up already and will come up again! As you have a choice of two questions, there should be nothing to panic about regarding what might come up!

This part of the exam asks you to do three more specific things, whatever topic you answer on:

1. You MUST refer to at least TWO different media
2. You MUST refer to past, present and future (with the emphasis on the present- contemporary examples from the past five years)
3. refer to critical/theoretical positions

For regulation, this should be perfectly possible. For point 1 You could choose to write about:


Film censorship/classification
The regulation of advertising
Newspaper regulation
Computer / video game classification,
The regulation of online media, social networking and virtual worlds
Contemporary broadcasting (TV and/or Radio)

Any two of these compared and contrasted, with some knowledge of what the rules are, who does the regulating, how it works and what the arguments are with close reference to specific examples will give you most of what you need! It will then just be a matter of answering the specific question. BUT make sure you do refer to TWO! It doesn't need to be absolutely balanced, but if you only refer to one medium, like film, it will cost you a lot of marks. I'd say go for an answer which is between 60-40 and 50-50 balanced between reference to your two media. If you write about three media, then either one third on each or 40% each on two, 20% on the third will give you time and space to do a good job.

For point 2, the main danger is spending too much time writing about the past, which many candidates have a tendency to do; the topic is CONTEMPORARY Media regulation, which means NOW, so that is where your emphasis should be. If you write about online media or newspapers, that should be easy to do, as there are some fantastic case studies around this year! But even writing about film should be possible with recent examples. If you don't know any, go to the BBFC student site for some tips! The BBFC even has an app for your phone now...

The tricky bit to get to the top of the mark range is FUTURE media, but that need not be a big deal. Just makes sure you say something about where the evidence is pointing for the future- I'd suggest, for example, that as we become more 'digital' it is harder to control what people do online so a key thing for the future is education so that audiences understand the implications of what they may access and what they can say. I'll give an example of this later, referring to Twitter.

Finally for point 3, you need some relevant writers/critics/theorists to reference in relation to your examples and answer. Don't just write the history of media effects, hypodermic syringe theories or all that stuff, but reference people who are relevant to the argument you are making. So, for example, if you are talking about anxieties about children's media consumption in the digital era, the research by Tanya Byron and Sonia Livingstone's EU Kids online project would be particularly relevant.

Current Case study: Twitter

The row this week over the Ryan Giggs case is a perfect example of the problem of regulation in the digital age. As you may know, a number of celebrities have taken out injunctions against newspapers, preventing them from printing stories about them (usually to do with some kind of sexual indiscretions/extra-marital relationships. These injunctions have an additional clause which turns them into what is known as 'superinjunctions' in that not only can the newspapers (or broadcasters) not report about the celebrity's affair, but they can't even mention that there is an injunction at all.

Sometimes, newspapers or broadcasters in other territories might decide to report the case as the injunction does not apply overseas. In such instances, it is not that hard, via google, to find out the details, but there may still only be a limited number of people who bother to do this; social media have of course changed all this, as it is very easy for messages to spread on a site like facebook. Twitter, with its instant messaging and hashtags, has taken this considerably further.

On 8 May, a twitter user set up a false account and posted details of six alleged superinjunctions. It was covered on BBC News and it only took me a quick search on twitter via #superinjunction to find them, by which stage lots of people had been re-tweeting them. One of the six made headlines with a denial, but the other five have, as far as I am aware, remained quiet. The Sun made several attempts to get the superinjunction for one of the celebrities overturned (the footballer) as his name was being repeated across social media quite a bit yet newspapers were not allowed to print it; the footballer then took out a writ against twitter to get the name of the person who tweeted the information. Last week, this led to massive retweeting of his name and it spread so much that it was even being chanted by Man City supporters on sunday. Finally an MP took advantage of what is known as parliamentary privilege (freedom from prosecution if done inside Parliament) to name Ryan Giggs, so the newspapers could then report it.

This case shows how impossible it is to control social media in the way that mass media can be regulated; if a newspaper faces an injunction and breaks it, then the editor or owner could go to prison or the paper face a massive fine (hardly worth it for a story about a footballer and a Big Brother contestant, though maybe if it's a major state secret or political scandal). On Twitter, once one person tweets, it is possible, as in this case, that thousands more will follow. So how do you catch the first one and do you prosecute everyone? There are a lot of interesting articles around in the papers and and online about this at the moment, so I would expect to see some good answers in the exam!

here's a couple of links for now:

Good article on claims that the internet is like the Wild west

Guardian writer asking for screening of all twitter messages !
Peter Preston on the legal implications
and also an hilarious tale of a twitter spoof by Graham linehan about Bin Laden's TV viewing and how quickly people believe it

finally if you want one of your mates to appear in the media with a superinjunction, try this (it's just for fun)

Tomorrow: Global Media

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

How to prepare for question 1b

In Sunday’s post, I listed all questions which have been set in previous sessions:

Analyse media representation in one of your coursework productions.
Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to genre
Apply theories of narrative to one of your coursework productions.

You will notice that each of these questions is quite short and fits a common formula. You can be assured that the same thing will apply this summer. You will be asked to apply ONE concept to one of your productions. This is a quite different task from question 1a, where you write about all of your work and your skills, as this one involves some reference to theory and only the one piece of work, as well as asking you to step back from it and think about it almost as if someone else had made it- what is known as ‘critical distance’.

There are five possible concepts which can come up

Representation
Genre
Narrative
Audience
Media Language

If you look through those questions above, you will see that the first three have all already come up, but don’t be fooled into thinking that means that it must be one of the other two this time- exams don’t always work that predictably! It would be far too risky just to bank on that happening and not prepare for the others! In any case, preparing for them all will help you understand things better and there are areas of overlap which you can use across the concepts.

So, how do you get started preparing and revising this stuff? First of all, you need to decide which project you would be most confident analysing in the exam. I believe that any of the five can be applied to moving image work, so if you did a film opening at AS, a music video, short film or trailer at A2, that would be the safest choice. Print work is more tricky to write about in relation to narrative, but the other four areas would all work well for it, so it is up to you, but to be honest, I’d prepare in advance of the exam as you don’t want to be deciding what to use during your precious half hour! What you certainly need is a copy of the project itself to look at as part of your revision, to remind yourself in detail of how it works.

Representation

If you take a video you have made for your coursework, you will almost certainly have people in it. If the topic is representation, then your task is to look at how those representations work in your video. You could apply some of the ideas used in the AS TV Drama exam here- how does your video construct a representation of gender, ethnicity or age for example? You need also to refer to some critics who have written about representation or theories of media representation and attempt to apply those (or argue with them). So who could you use? Interesting writers on representation and identity include Richard Dyer, Angela McRobbie and David Gauntlett. See what they say...

Genre

If you’ve made a music magazine at AS level, an analysis of the magazine would need to set it in relation to the forms and conventions shown in such magazines, particularly for specific types of music. But it would not simply comprise a list of those conventions. There are a whole host of theories of genre and writers with different approaches. Some of it could be used to inform your writing about your production piece. Some you could try are: Altman, Grant and Neale- all are cited in the wikipedia page here

Narrative

A film opening or trailer will be ideal for this, as they both depend upon ideas about narrative in order to function. An opening must set up some of the issues that the rest of the film’s narrative will deal with, but must not give too much away, since it is only an opening and you would want the audience to carry on watching! Likewise a trailer must draw upon some elements of the film’s imaginary complete narrative in order to entice the viewer to watch it, again without giving too much away. If you made a short film, you will have been capturing a complete narrative, which gives you something complete to analyse. If you did a music video, the chances are that it was more performance based, maybe interspersed with some fragments of narrative. In all these cases, there is enough about narrative in the product to make it worth analysis. The chances are you have been introduced to a number of theories about narrative, but just in case, here’s a link to a PDF by Andrea Joyce, which summarises four of them, including Propp and Todorov.

Audience

Every media product has to have an audience, otherwise in both a business sense and probably an artistic sense too it would be judged a failure. In your projects, you will undoubtedly have been looking at the idea of a target audience- who you are aiming it at and why; you should also have taken feedback from a real audience in some way at the end of the project for your digital evaluation, which involves finding out how the audience really ‘read’ what you had made. You were also asked at AS to consider how your product addressed your audience- what was it about it that particularly worked to ‘speak’ to them? All this is effectively linked to audience theory which you then need to reference and apply. Here are some links to some starting points for theories:

general intro

presentation on reception theory

Media Language

A lot of people have assumed this is going to be the most difficult concept to apply, but I don’t think it need be. If you think back to the AS TV Drama exam, when you had to look at the technical codes and how they operate, that was an exercise in applying media language analysis, so for the A2 exam if this one comes up, I’d see it as pretty similar. For moving image, the language of film and television is defined by how camera, editing, sound and mise-en-scene create meaning. Likewise an analysis of print work would involve looking at how fonts, layout, combinations of text and image as well as the actual words chosen creates meaning. Useful theory here might be Roland Barthes on semiotics- denotation and connotation and for moving image work Bordwell and Thompson

So what do you do in the exam?

You need to state which project you are using and briefly describe it
You then need to analyse it using whichever concept appears in the question, making reference to relevant theory throughout
Keep being specific in your use of examples from the project

Here is a link to a good answer to q1a and 1b from the January session.

Tomorrow we will start to look at the section B topics, with Contemporary media regulation

Monday, 23 May 2011

Approaching Question 1a

As you saw in yesterday's post, these are the previous questions which came up for this part of the exam:

Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Describe the ways in which your production work was informed by research into real media texts and how your ability to use such research for production developed over time.

Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

You will notice that each of these begins by asking you to 'describe' and then goes on to ask you to reflect in some way: "evaluate", "how you used" "how your skills developed". herein lies the key to this part of the exam! You only have half an hour for the question and you really need to make the most of that time by quickly moving from description (so the reader knows what you did) to analysis/evaluation/reflection, so he/she starts to understand what you learnt from it.

there are five possible areas which can come up

Digital technology
Research and Planning
Conventions of Real Media
Post-Production
Creativity.

If you look through those questions above, you will see that they all contain at least two of the five- creativity is mentioned (as 'creative decision making') in two of them alongside the main area (digital technology on one, research and planning skills in the other). In the third of those past questions , research is combined with conventions of real media. So as you can see, the question is likely to mix and match the five, so you HAVE to be able to think on your feet and answer the question that is there.

So, how do you get started preparing and revising this stuff? I would suggest that you begin by setting out, on cards or post-its, a list of answers to these questions:

What production activities have you done?

This should include both the main task and preliminary task from AS and the main and ancillaries at A2 plus any non-assessed activities you have done as practice, and additionally anything you have done outside the course which you might want to refer to, such as films made for other courses or skateboard videos made with your mates if you think you can make them relevant to your answer.

What digital technology have you used?

This should not be too hard- include hardware (cameras, phones for pictures/audio, computers and anything else you used) software (on your computer) and online programs, such as blogger, youtube etc

In what ways can the work you have done be described as creative?

This is a difficult question and one that does not have a correct answer as such, but ought to give you food for thought.

What different forms of research did you do?

Again you will need to include a variety of examples- institutional research (such as on how titles work in film openings), audience research (before you made your products and after you finished for feedback), research into conventions of media texts (layout, fonts, camera shots, soundtracks, everything!) and finally logistical research- recce shots of your locations, research into costume, actors, etc


What conventions of real media did you need to know about?

For this, it is worth making a list for each project you have worked on and categorising them by medium so that you don’t repeat yourself

What do you understand by ‘post-production’ in your work?

This one, I’ll answer for you- for the purpose of this exam, it is defined as everything after planning and shooting or live recording. In other words, the stage of your work where you manipulated your raw material on the computer, maybe using photoshop, a video editing program or desktop publishing.


For each of these lists, your next stage is to produce a set of examples- so that when you make the point in the exam, you can then back it up with a concrete example. You need to be able to talk about specific things you did in post-production and why they were significant, just as you need to do more than just say ‘I looked on youtube’ for conventions of real media, but actually name specific videos you looked at, what you gained from them and how they influenced your work.

This question will be very much about looking at your skills development over time, the process which brought about this progress, most if not all the projects you worked on from that list above, and about reflection on how how you as a media student have developed. Unusually, this is an exam which rewards you for talking about yourself and the work you have done!

Final tips: you need some practice- this is very hard to do without it! I’d have a crack at trying to write an essay on each of the areas, or at the very least doing a detailed plan with lots of examples. The fact that it is a 30 minute essay makes it very unusual, so you need to be able to tailor your writing to that length- a tough task!

Tomorrow- question 1b and how to approach it, including how different it is from 1a!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A2 Media exam coming soon!

Those of you in Year 13 are now on the final stretch with just the one assessment to come- the A2 exam. For those of you doing OCR paper G325 Critical Perspectives, over the next few days, I am going to try to put together tips and links for every topic on the paper. In this first post, I'm doing a list of all the previous exam questions and then each day for the next week, I'll take a topic and concentrate on how to deal with those questions and what you might use. So watch this space!

I shall tweet each time a blog is finished and ready to read- so follow me on twitter to get that information as soon as it's out!: I am @petesmediablog.

Ok here are ALL previous questions for each element, from the exams in Jan and June 2010 and Jan 2011:

1a
Describe how you developed research and planning skills for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

Describe the ways in which your production work was informed by research into real media texts and how your ability to use such research for production developed over time.

Describe how you developed your skills in the use of digital technology for media production and evaluate how these skills contributed to your creative decision making. Refer to a range of examples in your answer to show how these skills developed over time.

1b

Analyse media representation in one of your coursework productions.

Analyse one of your coursework productions in relation to genre.

Apply theories of narrative to one of your coursework productions.

Section B

Contemporary Media Regulation


How effectively can contemporary media be regulated?

To what extent is contemporary media regulation more or less effective than in previous times?

Evaluate arguments for and against stronger regulation of the media

How far do changes to the regulation of media reflect broader social changes?

Discuss the need for media regulation

To what extent can the media be regulated in the digital age?

Global Media

What impact does the increase in global media have on media audiences?

What impact does the increase in global media have on media production?

What impact does the increase in global media have on local identity?

To what extent are the media now more global than local or national?

Discuss the positive and negative effects of globalisation of the media.

Discuss the idea that the media is becoming increasingly global.

The Media and Collective Identity


Analyse the ways in which the media represent any one group of people that you have studied.

With reference to any one group of people that you have studied, discuss how their identity has been ‘mediated’.

Analyse the ways in which the media represent groups of people.

“The media do not construct collective identity; they merely reflect it”. Discuss.

“Media representations are complex, not simple and straightforward”. How far do you agree with this statement in relation to any one group of people that you have studied?

What is collective identity and how is it mediated?


Media in the Online Age


“The impact of the internet on the media is revolutionary”. Discuss.

“For media audiences, the internet has changed everything.” Discuss

“The impact of the internet on the media is exaggerated”. Discuss.

Discuss the extent to which the distribution and consumption of media have been transformed by the internet.

Explain the extent to which online media exist alongside older methods of distribution in 2010.

Evaluate the opportunities and the threats offered to media producers by the internet.


Postmodern Media


What is meant by ‘postmodern media’?

Why are some media products described as ‘postmodern’?

Explain how certain kinds of media can be defined as postmodern.

Explain why the idea of ‘postmodern media’ might be considered controversial.

“Postmodern media blur the boundary between reality and representation.” Discuss this idea with reference to media texts that you have studied.

Discuss why some people are not convinced by the idea of postmodern media.

WeMedia and Democracy

How far can the media in 2010 be considered to be democratic?

Assess the claim that the media is becoming more democratic.

Discuss the meanings of the term ‘we media.’

Explore the claim that the ‘new’ media are more democratic than the ‘old’ media.

What is ‘we media’ and what difference does it make to citizens?

‘We get the media we deserve.’ Discuss, in relation to the role of media in a democracy.


So there they all are!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

AS Media Studies Exam Tips

Sorry I haven't been posting recently- been busy! If you are doing OCR AS Media, it's your exam this week, so you might need some tips. Don't panic- here are the main things to bear in mind for the exam.

For Q.1 you get 30 mins screening and notes 45 mins writing; it's worth 50 marks. these marks are divided up between Explanation, Argument, Analysis (20) Examples (20) and Terminology (10)

there is no point trying to guess what the sequence will be, but if you want to see some previous extracts chosen for the exam, you can find them here:

(summer 2009- ignore the comments!)

(January 2009)

(January 2010)

You have to analyse how four technical features are used in the extract: camerawork, editing, mise-en-scene and sound. Each of those features can be sub-divided, so for camerawork you should consider shot distance (LS, MS, CU etc), angle and movement, for example. For editing such features as pace, how time and space are manipulated, transitions and matches on action would feature. Mise-en-scene needs to consider costume, colours, props, settings and so on- everything that appears in front of the camera, and sound features voice, music and sound effects.

For each of them, you need to show how a particular representation is constructed through these technical codes. The different representations which can come up are gender, ethnicity, age, sexuality, class/status, disability, regional identity. Whichever one comes up, it should be fairly obvious in the sequence and part of your job is to show how it is constructed for the viewer through those technical features.

Key to your task is note-taking: you might do this through a spider diagram or a chart or whatever, but you need to take as many notes as you can while you watch so that you have plenty available to write about. It is important that you cover all four technical areas and I would suggest that the simplest way to put them in your essay is to deal with each one in turn. DO NOT just write a blow by blow account of the sequence as you won't get a good mark! Pick out striking moments and concentrate on how the four codes work in those moments.

Examples are key and they are worth 20 marks, so make sure you have a lot of them to back up your points! Your introduction should be really brief- no more than a sentence, then GET ON WITH IT! A good conclusion would be to just say something about how the four areas, working together construct the representation. After 45 minutes of writing, draw it to a close, as you need to then get on with question 2!

Section B will pose a question about the media industry you have studied. You might find the question hard or confusing, but you have to answer it! Again you will have 45 minutes and it is marked in the same way. What you use for the content of your answer will depend upon the area you have studied, your precise case studies and the question itself. But these are the things you should know about in order to face any possible question...

Production Funding Distribution Marketing Exchange

Do you know what these mean? How do they apply to your industry?

Ownership- who owns your case study examples? what is the significance of this?
cross-media convergence and synergy- what's the difference and how do these apply?
technology- how important have recent changes in it been?
hardware and proliferation (just means spread)- what impact has new hardware had on your industry?
technological convergence- in what ways does this apply to your industry?
targeting audiences- who is targeted and how?

A few Tips:

do a little plan before starting
answer the question set (and not a question you imagined!)
structure your argument carefully
support all points with examples throughout
use the time effectively- stop q.1 so you have 45 mins to answer q.2 and use as much of the next 45 mins as possible!
Keep your intro and conclusions short!

Good luck!!

Collective Identity for A2

A good article from Aleks Krotoski in today's Observer, helpfully suggested by Helene:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/may/15/aleks-krotoski-britishness-internet