Home - Media Studies
Media Now
AS Media (Year 12)
A2 Media (Year 13)
Media Mission
Media Studies Revision Site - For A-Level & GCSE Media Studies
Students of today, producers of tomorrow
Media Studies Critical Concepts
Media Studies Critical Concepts
Media Theory
Advanced Practical
Further Education
Student Exemplars
Media regulation
Exam tips/AS retakes
Comprehension/exam Q
Recommended Books

 Depending on your syllabus, you will be expected to reflect personally on deeper, wider issues within areas of the media:

Custom Search

Whilst there is no page that will give you every answer, there are a range of useful web resources beyond the safety of wikipedia and google (which so many students seem to use as their primary and only secondary resources).  The following paragraphs summarise the issues of each critical concept and provide links to sites that offer varied perspectives on that topic.

You can also use the meta search engine toolbars dotted around the site.  A Meta search engine will search all the search engines for you, which saves you time and gives you more relevant material based on popularity from the likes of google, bing, yahoo and ask. Try it below:

  • News and the issues of Bias:
  • Global Media:
  • Media and Collective Identity
  • WeMedia and democracy
  • Contemporary Media regulation
  • Post Modern Media concepts

Key Concepts Explored further - Audience:


There are several ‘effects models’ which try to explain how audiences respond to the information they receive from a media text.  The fact that there are several theories is testament to the fact that no one can agree on which is most important or relevant in today’s post modern society.  See links below.

Theories, however, form the basis or argument and discussion – so examine the following theories and try to form your own opinions rather than recounting second hand information.

The Hypodermic Needle Model

 Circa 1920s, this is a widely cited explanation about how mass audiences might react to mass media. (see picture)

 It is largely flawed in today’s age because it suggests that audiences passively receive the information transmitted via a media text, without little or no attempt to challenge the method of communication or data. This highlights how audiences change, especially in contrast against Web 2.0 which can be seen as a more democratic exchange.

 So why study it?  Because you must have an historical understanding of how the media has changed and sadly some countries, not democracies, still believe that this approach works best for them on state controlled media (Zimbabwe, Burma, China).  Examine propaganda films of Nazi Germany and morale boosting movies by the Brits!

 China propagandaMugabe and control

In a nutshell, the Hypodermic Needle Model suggests that information is absorbed into the human brain without thought.  We are therefore vulnerable from consuming media texts and easily manipulated by producers.  We accept dominant ideologies as the norm.  Some politicians and parental groups react to events in the media with the idea that audiences don’t have control (see censorship and regulation powerpoint), and some element of self regulation has occured as a result of sociological concerns.  Advertising is now more heavily scrutinised, but the raised awareness of this theory, if anything, makes audiences question their consumption of media texts and unlock the many layers of meaning.

Two Step Flow Model

  The Two-Step flow theory destroys the idea that audiences absorb the content of a media text directly, but suggest that a social class or demographic get their interpretation of the media through a representative of that class, known as an opinion leader. Modern day opinion leaders can be bloggers and also independent media companies that are not state controlled. 

Custom Search

This is true with the news in today’s media –  you have journalists and commentators responding to news stories that emerge from hegemonic sources, each source will either challenge or interpret the dominant ideology differently.  This is most prevalent in the British press and their political stance, as this can affect their angle on news stories. (taken from we media  doc). 

  Uses & Gratifications Theory

 As the medium of television became more popular during the late fifties and 1960s, it became apparent that audiences made choices about what they did when consuming texts. Despite your perception about audiences of that time, far from being a passive mass with a limited choice of mediums, audiences then were made up of individuals who actively consumed texts for different reasons and in different ways.

 Researchers Blulmer and Katz developed this idea and published their theory in 1974, stating that individuals might choose and use a text for the following purposes:

 Diversion, Personal Relationships, Personal Identity and Surveillance.  Below gives examples of how you can apply this to modern media.


Diversion - escape from everyday problems and routine, quiz shows, reality TV

I don't really want to know what happened next!

  • Personal Relationships - using the media for emotional and other interaction, social networking/forums, watching soap operas as representation of family life, reading online diaries of fictional characters, second life.
  • Personal Identity - finding yourself reflected in texts – clever online virals, learning behaviour and values from texts, ecommunities. 
  • Surveillance - Information useful for living, including: weather reports, financial news, price comparison websites. 

Since then, the list of Uses and Gratifications has been extended, particularly as new media forms have come along (eg video games, the internet)

 Reception Theory

 Thirty years ago, much research was conducted on how individuals received and interpreted a media text, and whether their individual circumstances (age, gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality) affected their reading.

 To learn more about audiences you should examine audience demographics www.thinkbox.tv categorises audiences rather nicely!

 Stuart Hall addressed this in the video on representation, that though a process of encoding/decoding, that audiences take on their own readings of a text.  You should also research semiotics and other semioticians.

reception theory model - see representation

 Producers are able to engineer their products to position audiences to accept the preferred reading of a text.   However, people are all different and have different sets of ideals, beliefs and values (ideology), which can create oppositional or negotiated readings.

 This links nicely to genre and how we accept and categorise a text or group of texts.


 A text is classified in a genre through the identification of key textual elements, or codes and conventions, which frequently occur within that text and in others of the same genre.  You learn these tools of analysis at the start of the year

Key theorists of Genre to research and mention in your work should include Steve Neale (repetition and difference), Nick Lacey (repertoire of elements) and Richard Dyer. 

 Camera,  Sound,  Editing,  Mise-en-scene all have repeated conventions, so learn what they are and either apply them or comment how they can be subverted. 

 Narrative also plays an important role in classifying genre, although the last decade in cinema showed that there has been a development of hybrid genres emerging.  Partly driven by audience demand, but partly because the cost of producing high risk films has come down compared to when films were largely studio based.


You need to understand the way in which people, places or events are re-presented in the media. Having a good understanding of audience positioning (Hall) helps when creating sound analysis, but you might want to consider gender in particular (film - Mulvey's gaze) and Bell Hooks (race and ethnicity), Butler (Queer Theory), Cohen (youth groups).


Everyone loves a bit of Todorov (Circular narrative theory), a bit of Propp (character role and function), Levi-Strauss (Binary Opposites) and Syd Field or Joseph Campbell, depending on what you're analysing.  But don't forget Barthes action and enigma codes (key functions in many texts) to get up to speed on the structure and organisation of a story within a media text. 

Media Language

This refers to all of your technical codes and elements that you deconstruct in analysis and use in construction.  There are seven elements, can you guess what these are?

C_ _ _ _ and C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
C_ _ _ _ _ shots and _ _ _ _ _ _
M _ _ _ en _ _ _ _ _
Edi_ _ _ _
S _ _ _ _, Symbols and I _ _ _ _
Denotation and C _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
S _ _ _ _ Effects

Reference them well and know them like the back of your hand.

Custom Search

 Website showing historical development of studio film system (to follow):

 Most importantly – genres are never fixed, they are constantly changing and adapting to audiences tastes, reflecting changes to society and driven by profitability.  If the audience love them, producers will make more of them and neglect less popular genres until the cycle begins again.


A dangerous ideology

 Ideology is a set of beliefs, values and ideas held by an individual or a group.  You will hear the word used often when dealing with deeper theoretical concepts, especially with the idea of dominant ideology.  In terms of media texts, ideology refers to the driving force or agenda of the producers (usually linked to profit).

This only become apparent when you study particular case studies in media.  A good starting block is to examine the dominant political ideology of the Fox News Channel in these series of outrageous videos.  By watching these, you will start to get an idea of what an ideology enforces within a text.  With a new run up for presidential elections, you can expect to see a lot more of this in the final months of 2012.

 Hegemony, on the other hand, describes the general consensus of an organisation to be the most believed or referenced .  In terms of news hegemony, most people will tend to trust and believe the news of the BBC when comparing it to other sources because of their firm ideological commitments (confused yet?).  Gramsci developed this concept of cultural hegemony - the idea that one social class (usually the ruling middle class) can shape society by making their way of life and values seem like the norm.  However, the impact of social networking and passive audiences now seen as more active producers of their own media (blogs, vlogs, tweets, etc.) this becomes more debatable and audiences can now actively debate what is  and isn't acceptable.

 This is why the web has made things so exciting with an explosion of citizen journalism sites challenging the dominant ideologies that existed within traditional media platforms.  See more of Gramsi and his theory of hegemony.

Media Now

Home - Media StudiesMedia NowGalleryAS Media (Year 12)A2 Media (Year 13)ResourcesDownloads/ShopMedia Mission