Ian F. Hunt

Cinematographer and Filmmaker

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Media Studies – Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language

Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language

1.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will compare and contrast the structural features of media texts in at least two of the following:

  1. advertising image
  2. magazine cover/newspaper front-page
  3. radio sequence
  4. TV sequence
  5. film sequence
  6. web site

You might for instance compare a magazine cover to a newspaper cover, or a TV and radio news report.

Fig1. Daily Express newspaper front page 09/04/2010

Fig1. Daily Express newspaper front page 09/04/2010

Fig.2 Radio Times magazine front cover 20/03/2010

Fig.2 Radio Times magazine front cover 20/03/2010

Daily Express

Headlines dominate the front page of the newspaper; they are designed to be attention grabbing to guide the eye from a distance as they are competing with other newspapers on the news stand. The two row headline stretches across the page uses emotive language to grab the readers attention “Petrol Hits £6 a Gallon” which is much more emotive than a headline that reads “Petrol Hits £1.20 a Litre”. The sub heading (by-line) adds to this emotive message “Fury as pump prices reach record high”. The layout of the newspaper is designed to lead the eye that is the reader is presented with a layout which the reader is intended to read in a specific order which in this case would be the headline first for petrol price hikes, the by-line heading to be read next followed by the article beneath. Although continued inside the reader would glance at the other stories (Banners) first. There is a choice of three other stories on the front page all continued inside the newspaper.

The picture of Camilla and the article associated and then followed by the two less prominent headlines/banners “Tories to bring in national service for 16-year-olds” and then “Free Inside Your full colour National Sweepstake Kit”. By comparison with the headline the Newspapers name (Masthead) is much less prominent although it does stretch across the width of the page and is positioned near the top of the page but even so because of it’s size in comparison with the headline it is therefore of lesser importance to the reader, possibly? It also includes a centralised logo of a Crusader Knight breaking up the Masthead text.

The size of text (Typography) used plays its part in this process gradually getting smaller depending on the importance placed upon the story by the editor which is related to what is called the ‘Style’ of the newspaper but all this leads the eye down the page in the order that the newspaper intended for the readers consumption. There is the overall impression that this is a serious publication, mainly due to the higher text content ratio compared to the amount of space allocated to the pictures.

Although there is no advertising as such on the front cover there is a special offer across the top of the masthead offering “15p off tomorrow’s Daily Express”.

Radio Times

The Radio Times headlines are given less prominence on the front cover, the picture used is much more prominent on the page. There are five Banners to stories within the magazine, three under the banner “The sharpest interviews in RT”

The Masthead is broken up by the picture and therefore it can be assumed that the picture is of more importance to the layout and the structure of the magazine than the name itself.

The main headline positioned unusually at the bottom of the page is used as an anchor for the picture. There is a play on words in the headline “Let her eat cake” a mispronunciation of the quotation “Let them eat cake” attributed to Marie-Antoinette, the Queen consort of French King Louis XVI. She is supposed to have quoted this when she was told that the French populace had no bread to eat. This ties in well with the picture on the front cover which is of a celebrity who introduces a Television cookery program on BBC Two which just happens to include the cooking of cakes. The two by-lines add to this “Sophie Dahl on diet modelling and marriage” and the second by-line “The delicious Miss Dahl Tuesday BBC2” which ties the headline again to the article inside and the TV program which is called “The Delicious Miss Dahl”.

In general there is considerably less text on the front cover compared with the newspaper. Colour is used to help distinguish the banner headlines from each other and there is the indication that these colours have been chosen to link into the colours used in the picture rather than for any other purpose. There’s also no advertising on the page except for the price of the magazine “Still only £1.10”. The Masthead uses a compressed text, the ‘T’ in times is actually overlapping the ‘o’ in Radio because they are so compressed. Most headlines and banners use capitals adding to their prominence on the page.

The overall effect of the layout suggests this is more of a fun magazine rather than a series publication. The layout itself leads the eye to the picture first, then to the Anchor text (Headline), then back to the Masthead with its Banner stories distributed around it. In all it’s the central picture which is used to make the magazine stand out for the rest of the magazines on the magazine rack.

2.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will evaluate the extent to which genre formats of your chosen texts affect the structure.

Daily Express

The Daily Express a general news paper rather than being subject specific has multiple genres dependent upon the stories it covers. In many newspapers the paper is divided up into sections, for example traditionally the back pages cover sports. The paper will be further divided up to cover for example Television, Film, Theatre and Arts stories. The layouts of each of these sections usually specific to their content. The Television section will have tables showing programmes against the time that they are shown. Reviews will give prominence to the reviewer depending on their standing in the community or their authority in the industry.

Radio Times

The Radio Times is designed to be more than just a TV guide and instead is more of a Lifestyle Magazine which includes information on program scheduling. So the articles in the first section of the Magazine are similar in format to most Lifestyle Magazines that is stories and interviews with celebrities TV actors and Cooking but the TV Guide section layout is set by the need to list programs against viewing times and so a formulised list is employed.

3.0 You will analyse the ways in which two different media texts use language: (is the language emotive, emotional, analytical, descriptive, agenda setting, what are the connotations, does the language promote an ideology, is there intertextuality)

 

Fig.3 Ultimate Force (TV Series)

Fig.3 Ultimate Force (TV Series)

Fig.4 Actionaid website

Fig.4 Actionaid website

Ultimate Force

The TV series shown on ITV 2002 to 2006, based on the SAS and a fictional group of soldiers called Red Troop.

Emotive language is used throughout the series of TV programs, particularly by the lead character, the leader of Red Troop played by Ross Kemp, whose character promotes an over the top Masculinity – a Macho image continuously. The program makers probably intended for the audience to assume they were seeing realistic situations and a true reflection of the SAS in action. To have some empathy with the characters, but the characterisations are larger than life and the situations they become involved in appear unbelievable.

The programs all have this ideology, the program makers and script writer’s world-view is very narrow, black and white this is shown by the assumption that there are the good guys in this case Red Troop and the other protagonists are the bad guys. The opening titles use the Hollywood sequence now popular with Action films that is ‘The long walk’ where the members of Red Troop are filmed as they walk in a line abreast towards the camera carrying their weapons prominently positioned in front of them with a large military backdrop visible behind them.

However the repeats of this series are currently being shown whilst British forces are engaged in conflict in Afghanistan and so the language used in the programs can be very emotive, for example the programs catch phrase “…Man down. Man down…” has greater meaning at this time.

Intertextuality exists in many sequences, referencing other action TV and Film productions, by keeping to a well trodden action formula, it’s almost possible to correctly guess the words the actors are about to speak in a given situation before they actually say them.

Actionaid

The charity Actionaid supports children in mainly the African or Asian continents, promoting the sponsorship of a child.

The layout of the site is very similar to a newspaper with a Headline, a central main story and Banners to other news stories which can be expanded upon by following the page links just like a newspaper links to another internal page where the story is continued. The eye is led from the top linearly down the page with each short paragraph leading to the next in sequence, then back up the page viewing the links to the right using keywords to highlight specific causes.

The language used is of course very emotive throughout, for example “…As a child sponsor, you’ll have the chance to help a whole community take control of their lives and end their poverty…” and again “…only people can change poverty and that includes you…” The language used allows the targeted audience to believe in the truth of what you see on the website backed up by its pictures of smiling children and articles from current sponsors telling their stories and experiences of sponsoring a child through Actionaid, for example “…Sponsoring a child is amazing – it isn’t just giving money. I get such a lot of satisfaction from the experience because it’s so much more personal. You really get to see the difference that you make. And I have become emotionally attached to the children I’ve sponsored over the years…”

4.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will identify and evaluate how your chosen texts construct particular points of view for specific audiences (How are audiences positioned to read a specific meaning into a text)

Ultimate Force

The audience is intended to take on board the ideology of the program that the good guys that is Red Troop will defeat the bad guys that is everyone else. The structure takes the format of an enigma which is introduced at the beginning of the show, revealing the bad guys and the criminal or terrorist act that they have committed. Red troop is made aware and a resolution is devised and acted out between breaks for advertising each of which is preceded by another enigma or cliff-hanger which is resolved just after the commercial break or at least acted upon ready for final resolution at the end of the program.

Actionaid

All of this emotive language used in the main body of the websites homepage is backed up by descriptive language for example “…Despite world leader’s commitments to halve hunger by 2015, there are more hungry people now than at any time in history. But the causes of hunger aren’t natural, they’re manmade, and the solutions are within our power…” positions the audience towards making the decision if they are able to, to become a child sponsor.

5.0 Effectiveness of Media Texts and use of Language – You will evaluate the extent to which your chosen texts assume a context of consumption. (How do the producers of the text assume it will be consumed?)

Ultimate Force

As the situations and characterisation of Red Troop appear unbelievable, therefore the audience could consume the program in a way that the program makers did not originally intend. For example the audience may see it as purely entertainment whereas the program makers were known to have employed Chris Ryan of the SAS to consult them on the real activities of the SAS with the idea most probably of adding an element of realism to the programs, to make them more believable.

Actionaid

The Actionaid website appears to achieve its intention of how the audience is expected to consume the language used in its pages very well. It uses emotive language to create empathy for the hungry children in the world and it backs this up with very descriptive language, describing how the audience can help the starving children by sponsoring a child, taking it out of poverty, helping with education and making sure that it does not suffer hunger all thanks to your generosity. Complete with all the imperatives for example “…Do something amazing today, sponsor a child with Actionaid…” and again “…Sponsor Now…”

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