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

FREE!!! Book Chapters & Other Resources [+ info on some useful resources...]

There are a few photocopies of book chapters (espec on young people & the media) in F6 which I'll give out on a 1st-come-1st-served basis. There are also a range of handouts which you can take if you've lost you're own copy. Don't think I'll have time to upload the original docs for those today.
I've brought in most of the books that some of you made use of - you're welcome to come and use these in F6 (they're not for taking away) eg books on children and video games; moral panics; children and media; research methods etc
Furthermore, you should make use of the magazines Sight & Sound, Media, & Splice that the Library subscribes to. Some potentially useful articles from these include:
  • Vol 2 (issue 1) the Ring cycle; 'painographic horror'
  • Vol2 (3) intro to Japanese animation
  • jan 2009: 'in a lonely place' (on N.Korean cinema)
  • Feb 2009: 20 yrs of Japanese cinema + articles on horror films
  • Sept 2008: Grand Theft Auto IV
  • dec 2008: 'is nothing shocking' + art. on SE Asian film
Chapters from 2 books that have been photocopied and await takers in F6:
Kirsh, SJ (2006) Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence: A Critical Look at the Research. London: Sage. [C11 Playing With the Beast: Violent Video Games + C14 Policy, Violent Entertainment, and Youth]
Strasburger et al. (2009) Children, Adolescents, and the Media. 2nd edition. London: Sage. [C1 Children and Adolescents: Unique Audiences; C5 Media Violence; C10 Video Games]


The following blog is long-established and from a large centre which includes a chief examiner amongst the Media teachers; you'll find a range of useful materials on this. See
The blog at is also useful, though hasn't always been updated
There are very useful guides and examples on both blogs

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


The wider your range of secondary sources the better, e.g. online journals (unless you have access to a Uni Lib). You can simply google online journal (eg trying children media online journal, then narrowing with children video game media online journal and trying other variations).
The website is useful as a specific search tool
For cinema journals try

Some Tips

Having seen quite a few of by now, the following are some tips based on aspects you seem to be struggling with (I'll add to this as I work through the appointments)::

DON'T PANIC! no matter how far behind you are, you can turn this round: you have the basic exam questions already [Q1: how did you go about researching this topic; Q2: what have you discovered about this topic] and some detailed breakdowns for both questions [HINT: use these!!!]. Break the work down into bite-sized tasks, practicing writing up your findings for both Q1 & Q2 as you go - so [Q1] describe this part of the research process, how you went about finding info, but also evaluate how useful this was (strengths and weaknesses of rsch methods AND sources) + [Q2] summarise what you found out

  • Q1 MUST SHOW THE RESEARCH PROCESS - MAKE LINKS BETWEEN 2NDARY & PRIMARY RESEARCH: e.g. look at your Q'aire; have you read any articles which link to 1 of your Qs? If so, here you have an example of how secondary research influenced design of your primary research
  • LOOK FOR THEMES/RECURRING ARGUMENTS: this mainly applies to Q2, but can also be useful for organising/structuring your Q1 essay; look for common themes and structure your Q2 essay round these - which means, for example, taking certain Qs from your Q'aire and tying these (and your results) in with articles you've read. E.g., there are many views on the Q of media violence/effects: it clearly has a negative effect (hypodermic syringe passive audience effects model) and more censorship/regulation/age restriction is needed; new/digital media make all arguments about regulation/age restrictions out-moded and irrelevant; we need to see children as sophisticated media consumers (U&G - Blumler & Katz's uses & gratifications model of active audience); calls for censorship are actually ideologically-driven moral panics, often whipped up by right-wing newspapers (eg D.Mail) or TV outlets (eg Fox News in USA) - and often a reflection of technophobia: the older generation's fear of new technologies typically taken up by young people ('early adopters') which they may not understand; the evidence is mixed, and further, more in-depth and long-term research needs to be carried out...
  • THERE OFTEN IS NO DEFINITIVE 'RIGHT' ANSWER TO YOUR RESEARCH Q - IT'S A CASE OF YES AND NO...: Don't think you have to come up with a clear-cut answer; it's perfectly valid to conclude that there are some powerful arguments on either side - this leads to a neat structure for Q2 where you can set out both sides of the argument, including aspects of your own research which either support or contradict your own hypothesis
  • THE 4 SIDES OF HAND-WRITTEN NOTES: 1st off, rem that if I don't sign these off you can't take anything into the exam. Its vital you DON'T use CONTINUAL PROSE (ie full sentences) in these notes, other than direct quotes from books or of questions you used in Q'aires etc - and these should not be more than 2 or 3 lines. Rem also that the 2nd side of the cover sheet I sign has space for a list of references.
  • SETTING OUT YOUR NOTES: use upper-case HEADINGS and even colour codes (eg primary rsch in red, 2ndary green, newspaper articles blue, quotes black). Think about it: if you have to search through your notes they're not really much use. You have the question in advance, so make your notes as user-friendly (for you!) as possible
  • REFERENCES: You must give full references wherever you're discussing books/articles/websites/web-pages etc - and, yes, this does mean those sometimes very long URLs (make sure these go in your notes, and on the cover sheet)
  • TEXTUAL ANALYSIS: it is vital you include some textual analysis, which essentially boils down to either content (measuring what appears in a text, or, more likely, a series of texts) or semiotic analysis (as you did for the AS exam, deconstructing a text denoting shots/editing etc and using terms like signifier, polysemic, anchorage, preferred reading etc). E.g., for children/video games you could deconstruct some sample sleeves and/or ads (print and/or TV), probably using YouTube, google searches or company websites
  • SEMIOTICS: I'll upload some refresher guides later
  • EVALUATING RESEARCH METHODS: Even if its just ONE ... do make use of the handouts and books in the library on research methods as part of your evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses [Q1] of the research methods you've used. Better still if you've found a book/article which actually uses the same method and reflects upon it, but the Messenger-Davies book, amongst others, evaluates the pros/cons of various rsch meths - so a quote or 2 would be a good idea
  • EVALUATE SOURCES: I'm sure you've all used some material from The Guardian; always reflect on the nature and possible bias/ideological orientation of your source. Gdn's a centre-left newspaper, so may be in favour of regulation of media ownership and advertising, but against censorship; a paper like The Times, on the other hand, is right-wing and likely to be in favour of censorship (the likes of The Mail often campaign for censorship). Murdoch owns The Times (and BSkyB, + Fox...) so it will be against regulation of advertising and media ownership. Some books are written to push a point-of-view, not as a report on neutral academic research - always consider this
That'll do for now...