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In studying media texts we will have to look at the following:

• genre conventions

• narrative construction

• technical codes such as camera work, lighting, editing and sound for
audio-visual media and graphic design elements for print-based and interactive media

• language used and mode of address.

Dimbleby has a nice summary of basic generic qualities in in "Talking Television" multiple copies in the library




Genres work to a formula built from combinations of key

elements; protagonists, stock characters, plots and stock situations, icons, backgrounds and decor, themes.


Genre material is quickly recognizable through previous

exposure, and is attractive to the audience.


Genres work on the audience and give pleasure because

they are predictable.


The content, treatment and messages of genres are

reinforced through being repeated.


Genres not only work to a formula, they also have their

own codes and conventions governing what we expect to

see and read and how it will be handled.


Genres give pleasure to the audience and so sell well.

This means that they are also profitable to media

industries and so tend to be repeated, with variations on

the formula.


Genres create elements of myth in their stories. This is

attractive because it represents certain basic beliefs and

aspirations in our culture.


We may look at examples of genre to see what the

formulae are and what meanings, beliefs and values are

carried along with the formula.



It has an identity recognized more or less equally by its producers (the media) and its consumers (media audiences);



This identity (or definition) relates to its purposes (e.g.

information, entertainment, or subvariants); its form (length, pace, structure, language, etc); and its meaning (reality reference).


It has been established over time and observes familiar

conventions.


It tends to preserve cultural forms, although these can

also change and develop within the framework of the original genre.


A particular genre, as already implied, will follow an

expected structure of narrative or sequence of action,

draw on a predictable stock of images

and have a repertoire of variants

of basic themes.


The genre may be considered as a practical device for helping any mass medium to produce consistently and efficiently and to relate its production to the expectations of its customers.


Since it is also a practical device for enabling individual media users to plan their choices, it can be considered as a mechanism for ordering the relations between the two main parties to mass communication.






According to Andrew (1984, p. 110) genres (of film):


"are specific networks of formulas which deliver a certified product to a waiting customer”.


They ensure the production of meaning by regulating

the viewers’ relation to the image and narrative construction for him or her. In fact, genres construct the proper spectators for their own consumption.


They build the desires and then represent the satisfaction

of what they have triggered.



This view implies a high degree of media determinism which needs to be qualified, but it is at least consistent with the aspirations of media organizations to control the environments in which they operate.


While the genre is a useful general concept for finding one’s way in the luxuriant abundance of media output and for finding some organizing principles to help describe and categorize content, it is not a very powerful tool of analysis, since there are simply too many possibilities for applying it.


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THE
MAGAZINE
GENRE

Magazines are among the most popular media texts in contemporary society and there is an ever-increasing number of niche magazines being produced.

Maga­zines have very specific audiences (niche audiences) and magazine genres are clearly differentiated (men's lifestyle magazines are very different from magazines for pre-school children, for example) even though they all use the same codes and conventions.


Magazine codes and conventions

There are certain features which are common to all magazines.

Advertising is a very important source of finance for all magazines. Most magazines have:


-* an advice column

-* a contents page

-* a letters page

-* some form of makeover article

-* competitions

-* an 'In the next issue' page.


They also generally have merchandising or review sections. Review sections are usually a slightly more- covert form of advertising since manufacturers will give the review items to the magazine free in return for their recommendation in the magazine.


Magazine front covers also always have strong generic elements:


-* price, bar code and issue number/date

-* a photograph directly related to the feature article

-* a recognisable masthead

-* various plugs and puffs on the front cover to entice the audience to buy the magazine

-*' a thematic link between the colours used and the month of publication as well as colour links between images and text, for example.


Magazine front covers are carefully designed to attract the target audience and be easily identified on the newsagent's shelves. It is generally very easy to identify the genre of a magazine and the likely audience from a quick glance along the shelves.


Magazine institutions.

There are a lot of magazine publishers in this country, some of whom are also part of larger media organisations. Just as with washing powder, there are many competing titles produced by the same -institution. Although this may seem strange, if you think about how many magazines are published and how carefully each one is targeted at a niche market you can see that publishers do this to meet the needs of these niche audiences. By creating a range of closely related titles, of course, the publisher is seeking to persuade the audience to buy more than one and to attract very loyal niche audiences which ensure the survival of the title. They can also establish brand loyalty by employing the same house style across their titles.


EMAP publishes a range of consumer magazines (such as FHM, Empire, J17, Smash Hits and Internet magazine as well as a range of B2B magazines (trade magazines).


IPC Media publishes titles such as NME, Mizz, Essentials, Now, Nuts, Woman's Own and TV Times.


Dennis Publishing publishes titles such as Computer Shopper and PC Pro.


Future Publishing publish a very wide range of titles such as Cross Stitcher, Hi-Fi Choice, Internet Advisor, Net Gamer, Mountain Diking UK and Total Film.


Haymarket Group publishes Four Four Two, Revolution, Fl Racing and What Car?

The BBC publishes a range of magazines as well, many related closely to the television programmes they broadcast, such as BBC Gardeners' World and BBC History Magazine. It also publishes other titles such as the Radio Times, Noddy magazine and Eve, for example.


Other types of magazine


There are also other types of magazine, such as the in-house magazines now produced by large retailers, such as Sainsburys and Tesco, as well as those produced by travel companies such as Virgin or British Airways.


These titles are slightly different from the more conventional titles since they are often not sold but distributed free in appropriate locations, e.g. in an aeroplane. Once the magazine has reached a certain status and audience position, the publisher can then start to charge the audience - which adds to the credibility of the magazine and helps support high production values in itself!


Magazines and advertisers.


One of the main reasons for the increased segmentation of the magazine market has been the drive from advertisers for magazines to closely target particular audiences.

By establishing a niche market, the magazine is well placed to advertise products directly to the right audience, rather than the advertiser running a broad spectrum campaign.

Far better to spend the money advertising a particular type of maggot for catching trout in Trout Catcher magazine' than spend money on a larger campaign which may not reach the right audience!

This is another reason why magazines are often aspirational -especially lifestyle magazines. It is encouraged by advertisers who are prepared to pay more to advertise their products in a niche magazine and are keen to see that magazine promote their products as part of an ideal lifestyle to aspire to.


Possible Exam question

Study the front covers of three magazines published by the same company. What elements of house style can you see across all three titles? In what ways does each one target a niche audience?    (1 hour) Scary or wot?


The adjoining brief genre summary is taken from

Pearson Education Media Studies revision notes (copies in the library) though you would be well advised to buy a copy for yourself.

It costs £13.99 only and is full of good things relevant to both As and Advanced  Media Studies.

What an excellent Chrimbo pressie!!

Nuts is the number one selling men's lifestyle magazine in the UK, accounting for two out of every five men's lifestyle mags purchased. Launched in 2004, Nuts has established itself as the biggest brand in men's media.

Woman's Own is one of the best loved weeklies for women who know how to enjoy life, are fun-loving, confident and whatever their age, feel 10 years younger. It delivers a weekly mix of news, views, celebrity gossip and intriguing real-life. It's smart, surprising, and straight talking.

Woman's Weekly celebrates the home, family and lives of mature women, providing them with practical help, advice and inspiration. It is the clear favourite in its sector.

The three magazines below are all published by IPC. This is how IPC describes itself on its web site (link alongside)


IPC Media is a leading UK consumer magazine publisher. Almost two in every three UK women and over 45% of UK men read an IPC magazine. That's almost 27 million UK adults.


IPC's diverse print and digital portfolio offers something for everyone. Our 80 magazines include What's on TV, Pick Me Up, Woman, Now, Marie Claire, In Style, Woman & Home, Ideal Home, Nuts, Wallpaper*, Country Life, The Field, Rugby World, Practical Boat Owner and Look, our latest high street fashion and celebrity weekly. Our digital properties include NME.com, the third largest commercial music website in the UK and housetohome.co.uk, the UK's first homes portal. IPC's brands are very simply at the heart of the UK's cultural life


IPC is owned by Time Inc., the publishing division of Time Warner Inc. Our business is split into five distinct publishing divisions: IPC Connect, IPC Inspire, IPC Ignite, IPC Southbank and IPC TX. Alongside these is Marketforce, the UK's leading magazine distribution business.

IPC employs over 2,200 people, and it's their creativity, innovation, talent and commitment that drives our market-leading position in UK consumer publishing.

Here’s another fun task:

Using the terms illustrated in the Cosmo cover below and the notes on Genre above and attempt to relate generic cover elements to what you suspect may be the target audience for the Marie Claire below.

If the niche audience’s concerns are reflected in the cover elements how is this audience being represented?

Ways of analysing a magazine's front page.


The examiner will expect you to deal principally with those areas he has indicated in the question.  He asks you to look at representation and genre particularly.  

It is always a good idea to state the obvious.  

Even the example we have before us, while it might seem horribly obvious it would be as well to say that it is a magazine devoted to weddings.  You would then use your own cultural experience to figure out who would be the likely target audience for such a wedding magazine.


Is it really likely to be men?  Look at the  clues on the magazine cover.

273 ways to wow, Chic shopping ideas, and 50 new dresses plus hot A list  does not sound like this magazine is remotely targeted on men.

So if you tell the Examiner that you think the magazine is targeted on brides to be, bridesmaids, mothers and mothers-in-law you will probably be correct you will gain some marks and all you have done is apply your common sense and the wealth of your cultural experience.

Next it might be useful to make a few genre points.

 

Clearly the magazine is similar to other women's magazines.

There are the usual generic elements.

Centre page is the usual conventionally beautiful white model looking straight to camera and smiling.  The masthead is where mastheads always are at the top of the page and the use of colours is culturally coded as feminine.  The graphic layout mirrors other magazines in the genre.


Now about the likely audience.


The price is a clue, the magazine costs £4.70 so it is likely that the target audience will be slightly up market.  

The clean, colour coded  look also suggests that the magazine is more up market.  The appalling cluttered garishness of down market magazines is entirely absent.


You will have enough evidence from the cover page alone to suggest that the magazine is targeted at a niche audience.  

Weddings are about spending so you might speculate that the magazine will be, in part, dependent on advertisers from the wedding economy for its livelihood.  For them it is delivering the perfect audience.


You might now want to move on to the topic of representation.


How does this front cover construct weddings?


Weddings appear to be about spending on clothing, make up, hairstyles,jewels, glamour and perfect body  maintenance generally.

Style and trend consciousness is also highly important both for brides and bridesmaids.

Experts, it seems, are necessary to achieve the correct style, or that Chic style.  

Honeymoons are not unimportant.  

The term,  real life occurs twice on the front cover suggesting that there may be a notion of a fantasy wedding as opposed to what most people have to settle for.  

The wedding power  list, with the names who will make your day is  `enigmatic. Are these the names of famous photographers, wedding venues, honeymoon venues, trendy vicars, wedding car/limo specialists, celebrated caterers, famous florists, expensive jewellers or brilliant organists? One does not know, but one is intrigued.

There is also a chance to win £50,000 in cash.  Doubtless this money is to be spent on the wedding and honeymoon.

The model, the centre of the  cover is young, white and conventionally beautiful and, importantly, thin;   hers are the looks and the conventional white frock and the jewellery and the hairstyle and the makeup and the bouquet to be aspired to. She is definitely not pregnant.  

She has been Photo shopped pretty thoroughly, not a spot in sight.  She is wearing a tiara  which may suggest or connote royalty or that she is a princess or a queen for the day.  Her body language suggests a certain shy, bubbly happiness and the full frontal direct gaze suggests she is proud to be so happy.  There is no sign of the bridegroom.  Remember absence often suggests  meaning......

What else is absent?

Is it a convention in these covers not to show the groom?  The background is completely  empty and, at least, helps make the text stand out.

Is perfect body maintenance and spending to achieve glamour all that weddings are about?

Is it all about exterior show only?

Certainly the is no mention made of emotional,spiritual and character values but then you cannot buy or sell those.

Clearly, for most women, an impossible physical template is being offered.The Photo shopped modelled perfection is beyond the average size fourteen so she is left with the things she can buy. The commercial exterior trappings are what is being represented here which is entirely understandable given the magazine’s commercial base.

Comment on the generic elements of the front cover of “Weddings” magazine and suggest how they relate to its likely target audience.

Does this front cover suggest any problems of representation to you?

DESIGNING YOUR OWN MAGAZINE COVER

This is best done as follows:


Chose the genre of your magazine.


Get several back issues

.

Study them to extract their essential genre signifiers.


Make the necessary photographs for the front cover.


Experiment with backgrounds, plain backgrounds are useful graphically.


Use Photoshop, Serif,or Publisher to put your page together.


Use A3 as your initial size,it makes the fiddly bits easier and can always be shrunk to A4 at the end of the process.


During this process always seek third party proofing and opinion.


Constantly refer to your template magazine.


Keep copies of any variations you make, this shows the examiner you are ready to experiment and second guess yourself.


Finally check the work with your tutor.


Don’t worry too much about the quality of your first prints.

Have some one proof the prints.


Then get good quality glossy prints made at A4.

Save ALL your work so you can illustrate process if you need to.   

A good source for templates

Here is one I made earlier, not paying enough attention to generic magazine templates thus breaking genre conventions

template /,  n. (also templet)

1 a a pattern or gauge, usu. a piece of thin board or metal plate, used as a guide in cutting or drilling metal, stone, wood, etc. b a flat card or plastic pattern esp. for cutting cloth for patchwork etc.

A fictional magazine obviously but breaking way too many generic codes and conventions. Legibility is a big problem because of the choice of font

Too much
drop shadow
and colour
gradation
Real easy
legibility
problems as
chosen
type face/font
is too ornate
UNREADABLE
which is a
fundamental
mistake
Masthead type
is naff,over
fussy and
American
Essential features are missing:
bar code, price and date

Most importantly the model’s face needs brightening as brightness tends to signify bright, alert, vivacious,in the spotlight,in the sun,sunny,bathed in light etc

Here is another attempt. I think this looks generically more convincing. It is certainly more legible and the model is all eyes and teeth and sunny and backlit. Date ,price and barcode are all present. Colours are vibrant but more uniform. Masthead is convincing and highly visible as a signifier of the brand.

Nuts UK - 8 November 2013 T I E S
What are the ties that bind?
Notty Problems
Paisley, the new gingham
Curry stains, what can you do?
SLIM
Jim