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AQA Web Activities

Use these links to access web activities based on chapters in the AQA book:

Introduction

Website activity I.1: Worksheet to determine your media consumption patterns

Make a list of all the ways in which during an average day you are part of ‘an audience’. Go through your list and for each occasion that you are part of an audience think about the setting, other activities that you might be doing at the same time, your companions at the time (if any), who else might access the text(s) and what it is you have in common with other members of the same audience. Are there any other factors that you think might be important? Can you identify any particular trends or patterns that might be significant or might influence your patterns of consumption?

Using the list above, consider the different types of text that you consume.

  • Are they local, national or international?
  • Who else might be consuming these texts at the same time as you?
  • Again, are there any particular patterns or trends that you can identify?

Now carry out a more detailed survey of other people's patterns of consumption. You can design your own questionnaire or you might wish to access the worksheet below. To help you decide the sort of questions you might ask. (You might also want to read the sections on audiences and research skills before undertaking this task.)

Website activity I.2: Worksheet to determine the media consumption patterns of others

Some questions you may wish to ask your respondents:

Newspapers:
  • Which daily newspapers (if any) do they read?
  • What sections of newspapers do they turn to first, and why?
  • What sections do they never read, and why?
  • What kinds of stories do they usually read, and why?
  • Is the newspaper free or do they, or does someone else, buy the newspaper?
Magazines:
  • What magazines (if any) do they buy regularly, and why?
  • What sections of the magazines do they read or not read, and why?
  • Does the magazine have a website and if so do they access it?
  • In what ways is the website the similar/different to the magazine?
Television:
  • Approximately how many hours a week do they spend watching television?
  • What times of day do they usually watch television?
  • What programmes do they like best, and why?
  • What programmes do they dislike most, and why?
  • Do they watch alone or with others?
  • If they watch with others, who decides what they will watch?
  • Do they mainly watch the mainstream channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, C4 and C.5) or free to view digital channels, subscription channels or on-demand channels?
Radio:
  • What stations do they like best, and why?
  • How are these stations accessed, via a ‘normal’ radio, a digital radio, satellite or pc?
  • Approximately how many hours a week do they spend listening to the radio?
  • What times of day do they usually listen to the radio?
  • What stations do they dislike most, and why?
  • Do they listen alone or with others?
  • Where do they listen to the radio?
  • What other activities (if any) do they do whilst listening to the radio?
Cinema:
  • What films, if any, have they seen at the cinema in the last month?
  • What films have they seen in other places — for example through DVD purchase or rental, satellite film channels (free or otherwise) or through video-on-demand?
  • Who else watched the films with them?
  • Who decided which films to watch?
  • Where did they watch these films, at the cinema, on a television or a computer?
Internet:
  • How often do they access the Internet?
  • Where do they access the Internet — at home, at college or school, or at work?
  • What are the main sites that they access?
  • What are the main reasons for accessing these sites — for example for information, to make purchases, to communicate with friends, to download music or for entertainment?
  • Do they belong to any social networking websites such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook, etc? Why?
  • What other activities (if any) do they do whilst accessing the Internet?

DownloadDownload this worksheet

Website activity I.3: Charting changes to the consumption of popular music

The changing ways we have consumed popular music is an interesting and effective example of the way in which our domestic media has changed. For example the way in which music has been stored has changed considerably from records or discs like 78s, LPs, 45s, cassettes or CDs and CD singles to MP3 files. So to has the way in which we listen to this music from radiograms and cassette decks, through the walkman and Hi-F0.i systems to computers and i-pods.

Undertake a study of how the technology to reproduce music has changed over the years by conducting a survey with someone of your parents generation and your grandparents generation and compare their patterns of consumption of popular music with your own. You might also want to think about how your own consumption has changed over the past few years.

It has been suggested that the speed at which technologies change is increasing, does this seem true from your own research? Try to demonstrate the change in speed of adopting new technologies graphically.

Website activity I.4: Testing BARB's lifestyle survey

Visit the BARB website where you will find details of a lifestyle survey that the organization undertook in 2006. Part of their findings are that of the people surveyed:

  • 31% have a mobile phone with video, but less than 1% currently uses a mobile phone for watching television.
  • 65% use a PC/computer at home
  • 49% have internet access via a broadband connection
  • 42% are particularly interested in watching sports
  • 24% are particularly interested in fitness and exercise
  • 8% have paid to download music from the internet, but amongst 16-24 adults the proportion is 21%
  • 38% have a life insurance policy, and 13% private medical insurance
  • 74% are either buying their home on a mortgage or own it outright
  • 42% use the internet almost every day, amongst 16–44 year-olds the figure is 56% of adults, 34% use it almost every day to send or receive e-mails

Consider to what extent these findings fit with your own experiences and those close to you (friends, family, colleges, etc.). How do you explain any differences?

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Heroes

Website activity 9.1: Audience research into American programming

Conduct a small piece of research to determine how people feel about the amount of American programmes that are broadcast on British television. You could design a simple questionnaire (see www.surveymonkey.com) that asks people if they think that there is too much, too little or about the right amount of American programming on British television. You could ask your respondents which American programmes and/or genres they particularly like or dislike. If you could ask a range of people of different ages it would be interesting to see if there is any difference in attitudes amongst younger and older viewers. You could then summarise your findings and present them to your peers and colleagues.

Website activity 9.2: marketing of films and/or television series

When you next go to the cinema, or indeed when you next watch television, you will probably see a teaser — a sort mini-trailer for a film or television programme that is due to be released some time in the near future — often with films it is a summer or Christmas blockbuster. The teaser will be short, often consisting merely of a short sequence from the film or television programme.

Once you have noted the teaser, you should then monitor as closely as possible the way in which the film or television programme is advertised in the period leading up to its release in this country. This will involve watching out for trailers, posters, articles in newspapers and magazines, features in programmes on television or the radio, and indeed even on the website of the company that is handling the film or television programme. A worksheet is provided below.

Worksheet for Analysing the Marketing of Films or Television Programmes:

Before the film or television programme is released:

  • How is the film or television programme first brought to our attention?
  • Do you, at an early stage, feel that it is a film or television programme that you might want to see when it is finally shown? Why?
  • What sort of publicity does the pre-release activity engender?
  • What, if any, covert marketing takes place? For example, do the stars appear on television chat–shows? Are there articles and photographs in newspapers regarding the film or television programme and its particular features — for example the amount of money spent on special effects? Its stars?
  • Is the film or television programme sold on its genre, stars or director?
  • Does it remind you of anything else you have seen or have heard about?
  • What other media texts are associated with the film or television programme — for example a theme song released as a single, or a soundtrack album?
  • Where are the posters and other publicity material to be found?
  • Does the positioning of the publicity tell you anything about the likely audience for the film or television programme?

When the film is released:

  • What sort of release pattern does it receive?
  • Does it simply arrive at your local cinema or one a television channel or is there some kind of localised campaign to announce its arrival?
  • Do local radio stations, record shops and other organisations get involved in the marketing of the film or television programme?
  • How much publicity is available in the newspapers, both national and local?
  • How much of the pre-release activity is created simply by word of mouth — perhaps a free preview to an invited audience who will then, it is hoped, tell all their friends about it?

DownloadDownload this worksheet

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Lifestyle Magazines and Television Programmes

Website Activity 11.1: Magazine Reading habits

Working with a small group of your peers carry out a survey about people's magazine-reading habits. You could look at:

  • what magazines people read
  • how much they spend on magazines
  • how they choose which magazines to buy
  • when and where they read them
  • why they read them or, if they do not read magazines, why not
  • which parts of the magazines they read first
  • which parts of the magazines they find least interesting
  • how much influence they think the magazines have on their ‘lifestyle’; for example, do the features or advertisements influence the products they purchase?
  • their ‘history’ in terms of magazine-reading — what magazines and/or comics have they read in the past?

Do any patterns emerge? Is there any significant difference between the sexes in terms of magazine consumption?

Access some the magazine websites to see how they describe their readers, to what extent do these descriptions ‘fit’ with the readers you have interviewed? How would you account for any anomolies?

Ask a selection of your peers how they ‘consume’ magazines.

  • Do they have a particular pattern to how and when they read?
  • Does it vary for different types of magazine?

You may wish to ask them if they read magazines aimed at the opposite sex.

  • Do men ‘confess’ to reading women's magazines? Which ones? Which, if any, particular aspects of the women's magazines do they look at?
  • Do women read men's magazines? Which ones? Again, which particular features interest them?
  • Are women or men influenced by the articles supposedly addressed to the opposite sex?

It might also be interesting to ask men and women if they buy magazines for their partners and, if so, which ones and why.

According to the Periodicals Publishers Association:

  • On average each magazine is actually read for a total of 54 minutes
  • 82% of all women regularly read a consumer magazine
  • 69% of men regularly read a consumer magazine
  • On average each person in the UK buys a magazine every 18 days

Design a small research exercise to test the validity of these claims.

Re-read the section on representation and then conduct an analysis of the ways in which either men or women are represented in magazines such as Nuts, FHM, or Cosmopolitan. It would be particularly interesting to consider how women are represented in men's magazines or vice-versa. This can be done by looking at the images of men and women in the magazines, starting with the front covers but also looking at the articles and editorials to see how the opposite sex is discussed as well as considering images contained in the adverts.

You might then wish to compare your conclusions with a colleague who has looked at a different genre of magazine to see if there is any difference in the ways in which men's and women's magazines represent the opposite sex.

Design a short, ten minute, presentation of your main findings.

Website activity 11.2: Worksheet for analysing magazines

Consider the following features.

The title of the magazine:

  • Why is it called that?
  • What are the significant words?
  • What connotations do they have?

The publisher of the magazine:

  • Who publishes the magazine?
  • What other magazines (if any) does it publish?
  • What other media interests (if any) does it have?
  • How much does the magazine cost?
  • How often is it published?
  • What is its circulation/readership?
  • Does the magazine have a website or other media ‘platforms’?

The target audience for the magazine:

  • What type of reader is it targeting?
  • How do you know this (look at types of articles and advertisements)?
  • How does the reader ‘interact’ with the magazine?

The cover of the magazine:

  • Analyse the images on the cover; the types of facial expressions, body language, clothing, and so on.
  • What do they tell us about the target audience for the magazine?
  • What else appears on the cover?
  • Why are particular items in the magazine featured?
  • Explain why particular typefaces, types of graphics, colours and other notable stylistic features are used.
  • Does the cover look similar to other magazine covers? If so, why? If not, how does it look different?

The ‘style’ of presentation of the magazine:

  • What do you notice about the magazine's presentation?
  • Does it look cheap or expensive?
  • How does it compare with other similar magazines?
  • How does it use colour, print style, artwork and other visuals to convey an overall effect?

The ‘mode of address’ of the magazine:

  • How does it address its readers?
  • How and when are readers allowed to address the magazine?
  • What types of articles/features does it contain?
  • What subjects are covered?

The advertisements that appear in the magazine:

  • What are the main types of products being advertised?
  • What is their price range?
  • Who are they aimed at?
  • Why are these products featured particularly?
  • What percentage of the overall magazine is taken up with advertisements?
  • How do the models featured in the advertisements relate to the target audience?

Representations in the magazine:

  • How are men and women represented? (Look at both the images and the text.)
  • Are there conflicting representations? If so, why is this?
  • How do these representations relate to the readership?
  • Is there a limited range of representations for men and women? If so, what are they and why?
  • What groups do not appear in the pages of the magazine? Why?
  • Are celebrities featured in the magazine? If so, what kinds of celebrities? Why have they been chosen?

The competition for the magazine:

  • What other titles are in competition with it?
  • What are their circulation/readership figures?
  • How much do they cost?
  • What are the similarities/differences?

Finally:

  • What do you think are the reasons for the magazine's popularity (or otherwise)?
  • What does the magazine offer its readers?
  • What ‘values’ or ideologies are implicit in the magazine?
Website activity 11.3: The ‘Grey market’:

Access the keynote report on the ‘grey market’.

Countdown is a Channel Four tea-time quiz, which is supposedly popular with the ‘grey market’ television audience. It is useful to look at the Countdown website to see how the programme is presented. Look particularly at the way in which Richard Whiteley, a past compeer, is remembered and the types of banner advertising on the website. Look also at the Des O'Connor website to see how he presents himself. Countdown has been one of C.4's most popular shows since the launch of the channel in 1982.

  • How do you account for the show's success?
  • What other types of adverts are shown around programmes such as Countdown that are aimed at this type of audience?
  • Which other celebrities are seen on television either in advertisements or in the programmes themselves promoting certain types of lifestyles, products or brands to the over-45s market?

There is also an increasing number of magazines aimed at the affluent ageing consumer. Re-read the section on lifestyle magazines and consider how these types of magazines promote a particular lifestyle and what, if any, codes and conventions they have in common with each other.

Website activity 11.4: ‘Pitching’ a new magazine

You have been commissioned to design a pilot issue of a new magazine aimed at teenagers. The company you are working for is part of a larger group that already has several teenage titles and will need convincing that there is an opportunity to launch a new title, so your magazine must be distinctive but meet readers' needs and expectations. You may wish to work as a group and allocate different tasks to different people as in a real magazine production process.

  • You need to decide upon the target audience and, using Hartley's and Fiske's ‘subjectivities’, draw up a profile of a ‘typical reader’ that also includes ‘lifestyle’. Choose a name and price for the magazine. You could create a media pack for your magazine.
  • Design a front cover.
  • Consider what types of products and brands the readership would be interested in and then make a list of possible advertisers and crosspromotional features. Consider how you would ‘sell’ the magazine and its readers to potential advertisers.
  • Draw up a list of the types of articles and features that should be included in the magazine. For the pilot you may wish to write up one or two of the features and design some advertisements. You could also write an editorial, from the editor to the readers, explaining what the new magazine offers them.
  • Produce an advertising campaign for the launch, detailing where the advertisements for the magazine will appear. Again you may wish to produce a finished version of one of the advertisements.
  • Consider what else, if anything, you should be doing to convince your company of the viability of the new magazine. You will need to work to a deadline and justify all your decisions and choices. You could present your findings to a selection of the target audience and ask them to vote on the probable success (or otherwise) of your magazine.

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Media Audiences

  • http://www.barb.co.uk/tvfacts.cfm?fullstory=true
  • You can get recent and historic information on the percentages of audiences achieved by each of the terrestrial channels and others (Cable, satellite etc.). You can also see the number of households with a colour television. Think about how these figures have changed over time and may change in the future.
  • http://www.barb.co.uk/viewingsummary/weekreports.cfm
  • You can also get a summary per channel of favourite programmes and the most popular programmes over all channels. How might these programmes, and the channels that own them now, have affected viewing trends?
  • http://www.tvguide.co.uk/
  • The TV guide can be a handy tool in your analysis of audiences. How does the timeslot of each programme help you to identify the consumer group most likely to watch that programme? Why are some programmes broadcast so late?
  • http://www.rajar.co.uk/
  • Statistics on radio listeners can be found here. You can view the number of listeners and the percentage of audience share per station or group. How often do you listen to the radio? Who do think the audience is for these channels?
  • http://www.itv.com/
  • Look up the TV guide for tonight on ITV for your area. How many programmes involve ordinary people? Split these into different types of programmes and think about what the attraction of these programmes is. Draw up a questionnaire to find out who likes these programmes and why?

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Media Institutions

  • http://www.newscorp.com/
  • http://www.gmgplc.co.uk/Home/tabid/91/Default.aspx
  • News ownership is becoming less diverse because large corporations and merging with other companies all the time. British news is now distributed by far less organisations making our information less pluralistic. Look at the organisations listed above for an idea of who is providing our news.
  • http://www.radiotimes.com/
  • Look at the above website and consider the nationality of the programmes from each channel for a week. Then look at the films on and note the nationality of those as well. Does it vary from channel to channel or do most channels share American products?
  • http://www.arsenal.com/index.asp
  • http://www.mcfc.co.uk/
  • http://www.avfc.co.uk
  • http://www.mfc.co.uk/page/Home/0,,1,00.html
  • Above there are English football team websites, look at the sponsorships they have. Notice the different media outlays that are involved in football. Sponsorships include an airline company, phone network companies, alcohol, online betting, insurance companies etc. Why do you think these companies choose to invest into football teams? Do you think these companies set high standards for the supporters? Should a child be wearing a shirt advertising alcohol and online betting when they themselves should not be concerned with such products?
  • http://www.ofcom.org.uk/
  • Look at the above website and look at current conflicts in media. Consider the ongoing saga between Virgin Media and BSkyB. Also note the recent complaints from the public for television programmes such as the documentary on Princess Diana. Pay particular attention to the new ‘tougher rules’ for television phone-ins, why have the rules been changed?

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Representation

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