Thursday, 11 June 2009


Many of you are looking at the macro topic of Children and the Media. You should have come across something on the lines of the following, an article about China's plans to install supposedly anti-porn software on computers, taken from the moderately left-wing Guardian newspaper (and thus we can expect an anti-censorship bias): 'And yet it's possible that the government is on the level, that pornography is the target. The immediate impulse with Chinese legislation of this sort is always to look to political freedoms being encroached upon. I would suggest three reasons for this: first, if we were just to take at face value the impulse to control access to internet pornography, it wouldn't look so radically different to that proposed by the Australian Labour party last year. Sure, China moves faster and is somewhat less receptive to criticism, but the methods are the same, and so indeed is the rhetoric – stress the dangers to children, ask yourselves, ­citizens, whether you wouldn't do anything to protect the innocent, and if not, why not, you pervert? It seems important to a sense of western democratic identity to distance itself from China, particularly in situations that don't look very different.'
article - Zoe Williams (see

After the Baby P (moral panic?) story we now have the story of the female (and gender is the shocking hook here) nursery worker who allegedly took images of children, presenting one side of the modern binary opposition of media representation of youth: either as vulnerable, young and innocent and needing protection, or wild and criminal (victim v villain) and needing locking up/the return of corporal punishment (that means getting beaten at school - as with the scene in Son of Rambow). Even in the last few days before this exam its worth keeping any eye/ear out for relevant stories, and observing how they're presented; what narratives they reflect.


This wholly relevant trinity is key to Q1 - and also important for Q2. Evaluate each source you used as part of your secondary research - but also the veracity (usefulness, accuracy, validity etc) of each research method (see handouts for detailed breakdowns of strengths/weaknesses of research methods, including web searches as well as specific primary research methods - but also use text books in lib/photocopied chapters/F6). Again, I've raised this issue earlier in the blog, but consider as examples:
  • NEWSPAPERS: The Guardian takes a centre-left editiorial line, so will tend to be anti-censorship and in favour of tighter regulation of media ownership, as two examples; The Times is not only right-wing (in common with all national dailies except Gdn + Mirror [centre-left] + Independent [liberal/centrist], so likely to be pro-censorship and often at the forefront of creating/fuelling 'moral panics' and (contradictorily) against tighter media regulation, but as part of a group owning BSkyB, 20th Century Fox etc will tend to be biased in favour of minimising regulation, especially as regards advertising and ownership controls. There is clearly an issue of ideology here.
  • DISCUSSION LISTS: did you pick out a general forum (eg Yahoo!) or a niche, specialist forum/discussion list? You need to discuss the likely make-up of the users of this, considering their interests, knowledge, social class, age, gender etc. A forum within a horror fans site will be unlikely to find many in favour of censorship; a forum on a parents/mothers site will be more likely to do so. A forum on the Daily Mail might find some saying producers of horror films should be hung up and/or flogged! Ideally you might have looked at both - but at least address the issue, using a commutation test - hypothesise the binary opposite of the group you looked and speculate on their likely responses. In general terms, are you looking at a group with a broad or narrow demographic range?


Check your understanding of this term; many of you seem to be mis-using it. Recording a definition from any of the books - or a web source - might help. Essentially, it is avoiding reliance on any one method or type of method: by combining both qualitative and quantitative research methods you are seeking to overcome the limitations (which you need to discuss in detail for Q1, in reference to your secondary research in general, and each primary research method in turn) of each individually. Combining elements of the two effectively produces a third side to your research...

remember, there are several research methods books in the lib, and some will be in F6 up to Tues, as well as others on moral panics etc


I included this point in an earlier post, but it is worth highlighting: when preparing a plan for your Q2, on what you found out, rather than listing what you found out, in sequence, from each secondary source then each stage of primary research, you could instead structure your essay around key themes you noted. For most research questions you'll have found arguments for and against - and perhaps some who insist there is no clear answer. Can you unpick separate strands from any of these positions? If you can list 5 or so key arguments/themes in your intro, you can then explore how your reading and primary research illustrate each point in turn - in doing this, each paragraph will be jumping between parts of your primary research and aspects of your secondary research.
This isn't essential, but will make for a more coherent essay.
As you do this, you gain an opportunity to cite/discuss some models of audience theory, e.g. pro-censorship opinion often implies an acceptance of the hypodermic syringe model, where the audience is ultra-passive and weak and the media all-powerful - or the two-step flow theory, where its social discussion of media one influential peer has consumed that spreads the influence of a still powerful media amongst still weak consumers (audiences), or even the Uses & Gratifications theory, wherein we, the active audience, use the media for our own ends (and accordingly then help shape the content the media puts out into the marketplace). Also tending to view the audience as fairly passive, and the media powerful, Hermann/Chomsky's propoganda model, with its five filters ensuring that the media act as a mouthpiece for the powers-that-be (society's elite; ruling class), as a key part in the process of creating and sustaining hegemony for their values - and (with flak, for example) ensuring that counter-hegemonic voices struggle to be heard at all or to get a fair hearing.


  1. try to find a 'figure of authority' (academic; regulator; media practitioner; pressure group; politician) - any names pop up in newspaper articles, for example, you've read?
  2. this would be an example of secondary research influencing primary research, which is something you want to highlight throughout your Q1 answer
  3. aim to send 4 or 5 to increase chances of a response
  4. its always good to briefly quote something the individual has said - shows you're switched on ... and massages their ego!
  5. keep it brief
  6. keep it brief
  7. keep ... I think you get the point; assume your target is v busy and will skim thru emails - make it easy for them to see what you want
  8. an opening sentence states 'I am researching the topic of/issues around...' - don't bother saying you're a student unless you think this will help you get a response
  9. a 2nd sentence: 'I'd welcome any views on ...' - you could simply use your research question here - do pose a question for them to answer though
  10. a 3rd sentence - 'any views you might have on this - or other areas related to this topic - would be greatly appreciated'
  11. a 4th sentence: 'I can appreciate the time pressures you work under, though would welcome the opportunity to briefly follow-up your response to this e-mail with a telephone interview (of no more than 5 supplementary questions); if you can spare the time to do this please let me know in your reply'

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


I've already put past Qs on BritFilm on a handout, with outlines of topics to cover in answering these; the questions for 2734 don't really change (on the older papers the topics were different). However, I've also just now uploaded a range of complete past papers, mark schemes and examiner reports; see

Monday, 8 June 2009


I've uploaded a variety of handouts here