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Indicative Content

Introduction

For the non-exam assessment, often known simply as coursework, you will be asked to devise and develop a cross-media product for an intended audience. Although the briefs change each year, they remain linked to the Close Study Products so you can expect to use the following forms:

  • Print media: newspapers, magazines, advertising and marketing materials.
  • Moving image: television programmes, music videos, film trailers.
  • Online, social and participatory media: websites, blogs, social media advertisements and posts.
  • Radio broadcasts.
  • Video games.

The exam boards provide an outline of the context and aims of each brief, specifying the length, amount or duration of the texts. They will also give you a clear definition of the target audience. If you would like to know about the minimum requirements for each media form, read through the sections below that are relevant to your coursework.

Newspapers

Front Page

Following the codes and conventions of newspaper design, your front cover should contain a masthead with the date and price. Research the difference between a tabloid, broadsheet and a blacktop newspaper because they will be branded differently to suit their target audience. There will also be incentives, such as competitions and coupons, positioned close to the title.

The audience will expect to see a main story, which is often called the splash. The image, of course, should grab the reader’s attention. However, the requirement often stipulates that this dominant image should not be used inside the newspaper.

Make sure you include a headline and byline for the main the story. Many newspapers often format the first paragraph differently to the rest of the copy. Known as the standfirst, the font is usually in bold and with a larger size.

Don’t forget to create an off-lead that will also appeal to the readership.

House Style

Importantly, you need to establish a clear house style with an appropriate register and mode of address. In other words, make sure your language suits the relevant demographic. For example, a tabloid might opt for a controversial and provocative headline compared to the more formal approach taken by a broadsheet.

For more information on the structure of a newspaper, read our guide to the codes and conventions of front pages. The glossary might help to clarify some of terminology used on this page.

Related Pages

The design of the inside pages should reinforce the brand established on the front page. Put simply, you need to be consistent with your use of columns, headings, subheadings, colours and font choice. If size of the font on the front page is 10px, tracking is 0 and the lead is 10px, make sure your copy inside the paper is the same.

The brief might insist on at least 500 words of original copy and six other images. Of course, the mise-en-scène of the images must be appropriate to the style of the newspaper and engage the target audience. Be careful with the representation of people, social groups and places.

Finally, text and images should be combined into a suitable layout because you want to encode appropriate values and construct a clear point of view.

newspaper front page mock up
Media Form – Newspaper Front Page Analysis

Magazines

You will need to submit three or four pages. A cover page, content page and a two-page spread are probably the best options because you will be able to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the full range of magazine layouts. The right combination of text and images will achieve the top marks.

Front Cover

The first page should reflect the codes and conventions of the genre of magazine specified by the brief – a horror film fanzine will have a very different look and feel to a text targeted towards DIY enthusiasts. The values and ideology of the institution should be apparent in the choice of stories and representation.

Be sure to design a good title and masthead and position it appropriately on the page. You should also include the cover price and dateline. The exam boards often request at least three cover lines on the cover of the magazine so try to invent other relevant stories that might interest your audience.

Obviously, the main image is incredibly important because it will be the first thing that captures the audience’s attention. However, the brief might also stipulate two further smaller images or illustrations are required to demonstrate your understanding of the genre.

Arrange the headings and subheadings around the dominant image and make sure they are legible by choosing an appropriate font colour. Black text will only really work against a white background, so experiment with a range of colours. The font size needs to large enough to ensure readability.

Check out our guide to magazine covers for more information regarding their layout and form.

Internal Pages

The other pages should follow a suitable house style so use the same font size and weight for the main copy. If your columns are a certain width and are left aligned with a ragged right edge, make sure this format is repeated throughout the articles. The tone and style of the writing, or the mode of address, should also be consistent. Choose your words carefully – you will need at least 400.

Lots of candidates use an interview format, but make sure the responses communicate a clear point of view. A well-written article, such as a review or news report, with an appropriate ideological message is probably a better idea.

Detail is important. Include the folio and, perhaps, the magazine’s logo at the top or bottom corners of each page.

Finally, your seven or eight images should be original and fit the style of the magazine. Again, the mise-en-scène for a model train magazine with be very different to the glamorous shots needed for a bridal magazine.

Our guide to a two-page spread will introduce to the terminology used to define the different elements of a magazine.

Print Advertising

The shape and size of print advertisements will depend on their placement. You might be tasked with creating inserts for magazines, billboard posters, brochures, flyers and even fill the advertising space on the back of a bus. Therefore, the context will influence the layout and design of each text.

You will need to create at least three adverts which raise awareness of a brand, service or product. Although branding and identity are both important, each text should have a distinct marketing strategy or unique selling point. The exam board may ask for each advert to target a different demographic so think carefully about tweaking the representation and mode of address to suit the audience and context.

If you are going to encode a clear message and get the audience to engage with whatever you are promoting, you must exercise deliberate control over the connotations of the words and images you use on the print advertisements. Spend time getting the best shot of your celebrity who is fronting your campaign. Think carefully about the location and background. Create a mock-up of the product if necessary. The mise-en-scène and style of the images will help establish the brand and position the audience’s reaction to your promotional materials.

The lexical codes also need careful attention. Make sure your headlines and taglines are memorable. Use appropriate choices of font, type sizes and colour codes to create meaning.

Click the following link and learn more about the conventions of print advertising.

Websites and Blogs

You will probably need to publish three pages. A homepage is essential because it will help define your values and point of view.

If the brief asks you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the key media concepts by creating a website or online blog, you will need to follow some well-established conventions. There are a few obvious features a user will expect to find when they visit a webpage. For example, you should include a navigation menu at the top of the page, or in a sidebar, with links to the other important pages. The website logo and title are often integrated into this header.

website navigation bar
Example of Navigation Menu

At the top of desktop browsers, the title and site icon should appear in the tab to let users identify your site more easily, especially if they are switching between a number of sites. Users also expect a footer to conclude each page.

To establish a convincing house style, each page should share various design elements. Make sure the headers, fonts, colours and layouts are consistent otherwise you message will get lost in a confusing user interface. Here, at media-studies.com, we use the typeface Arial for most writing, sized 16px and with the very specific hex code of #2b2b2b. This style is repeated on each to page to deliver a consistent experience no matter which section you visit.

Content

User generated content (UGC) is another important part of the user experience. Incorporate interactive elements and some multimedia content, such as embedded audio and video files, to engage the audience. SoundCloud and YouTube offer effective streaming solutions. Social media links are another typical feature and allows the user to share your stories.

Comment forms and comment sections are a great way to connect with your users because it gives them an opportunity to voice their opinion on the subject matter. In this way, it will help position them to feel they belong to a community who share an interest in whatever you are selling.

In terms of information, you need to write at least 400 words and include around eight original images or illustrations. Remember, the representation of people and places must be appropriate and relevant to the content of your site. The mise-en-scène must be related to your subject matter and target audience.

Moving Image Advertisements

Developing an overall concept for a campaign is really challenging so spend some time researching the specified industry context and evaluate how existing products target their audience. This detailed knowledge and understanding of the media landscape will help inform and shape your own products.

The length of footage will depend on which platform the advertisements are being broadcast. For example, television slots are usually 30 seconds and TiKTok videos can now be a minute long.

The exam boards might also stipulate at least two filming locations are used and each text should have a specific USP or audience segment. Original footage only.

Before you point your camera at your fake celebrity and press record, think carefully about how the audience will consume the texts because the way we hold our phones to watch a TikTok video is very different to the widescreen of a television programme or a typical YouTube upload. This relationship between the width to the height of the image is known as the aspect ratio.

diagram showing the difference between landscape and portrait screens
The Difference between Portrait and Landscape Modes

Clear communication of the brand or message is vital so make sure your audio-visual choices are deliberate and appropriate. Persuasive strategies, such as celebrity endorsement. For more information about appealing to the audience and why people consume the media, read our guides to the Uses and Gratifications Theory and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The lines of appeal created by Gillian Dyer is also incredibly useful.

In order to construct a point of view that conveys the right attitude and belief for your campaign, think about the story. The use of narrative codes, such as Propp’s character types and Todorov’s theory of storytelling, will improve your understanding of how texts are structured.

The best products will contain a wide range of shots and effective mise-en-scène, including props and costumes. In other words, do not limit your filming to your school. Use a logo within the advert in a way that promotes brand recognition.

Dialogue will be your biggest challenge. If you have a friend or family member talking to the camera, they need to stand close to the microphone so their voices are not lost in the wind. Dubbing dialogue to match the words with the actor is incredibly difficult. Fortunately, the microphones on most modern phones are excellent so you will have no trouble recording voice overs for your advertisements.

Finally, be aware that most free online editors will place a watermark the footage and charge you a small fee for removing their logo. Your school might have access to Adobe Premiere and After Effects, but do not be daunted by the software. Get stuck in.

For the top marks, you will need to demonstrate your awareness and skill of continuity editing. Check out this guide to continuity editing for six essential tips about working with your footage.

It is impossible to expect students to create a feature length film or an entire television programme. However, trailers and opening sequences are an excellent way for you to demonstrate your awareness of genre and form.

The minimum requirements will include at least two filming locations and the full range of camera shots, angles and movement to support the narrative.

You will also need to consider the mise-en-scene of each shot, including props, costume and lighting.

Although all the footage must be original, you can use existing music for the soundtrack.

The narrative codes need to be appropriate for the genre and form, so research the conventions of trailers and opening sequences. Watch lots of examples to increase your understanding of how these texts engage the audience.

Choose and combine signifiers that create the right representation for your story. The use of titles and graphics should reinforce your message and the action codes need to be appropriate for the target audience.

Finally, your texts should position the audience in relation to the characters and situation. Put simply, your villain should look like a villain.

Radio and Podcasts

The style of your text will depend on the brief. Factual broadcasts and news reports will have a different tone to a “behind the scenes” feature of a red carpet event. The target audience will also influence the rhythm of the piece.

You will probably need three minutes of content and at least three different voices to meet the minimum requirements. Use appropriate language and mode of address throughout.

Listen to a range of podcasts and tune into various radio stations. What conventions do these broadcasts follow? How do titles and non-diegetic sound help create meaning? What narrative codes are used to engage the target audience?

A narrator, interviewer or presenter can help establish the structure of the broadcast. They can also help anchor the listener’s interpretation of the situation or product. The use of different voices helps create interest, but pay attention to representation.

Statement of Intent

You must also complete a Statement of Intent which outlines the connections between your knowledge of the key concepts and your own media texts. If you would like some suggests how to approach the Statement of Intent, please visit our guide. It is also important you are aware of the mark scheme so you should also read our outline of the coursework assessment objectives.

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