When you analyse media texts for the first time, it can be difficult to understand exactly what your markers are looking for when they read your responses.
The guide below is for students who would like a structure in which to shape their responses. Remember, this is not the only way to approach media analysis. It will, though, help you to ensure that you cover the major aspects of what your markers are expecting.
And remember, when we refer to a “media text”, we mean any text that could be studied in media. This includes films, websites, photography, newspaper articles, podcasts and many others.
1) Think about HOW THE TEXT MAKES YOU FEEL.
Create a list of adjectives to describe how the text makes you feel. Here, you might focus on the text as a whole, or you might find it easier to create a few lists of adjectives that are related to different aspects of the text such as characters, settings or events.
For example, you might describe the atmosphere of the text as being eerie or intimidating, a character as being nervous or vulnerable, or an interviewee as being brash or dominant.
2) Identify the TECHNIQUES used in the text to INFLUENCE THE AUDIENCE’S RESPONSE.
For each of the adjectives that you have written for part 1 above, list at least one if not a number of techniques used in the text that help to achieve this specific effect on the audience.
You may want to do this in a table format, in a similar way to the one below.
|ADJECTIVE(S) TO DESCRIBE THE TEXT||TECHNIQUES USED TO ACHIEVE THIS EFFECT ON THE AUDIENCE|
|Eg: The setting was claustrophobic and constricted.||* Tightly framed camera shots, often close-ups or over-the-shoulder shots.
* The city was often shot from ground-level, with the camera occasionally looking up at tall buildings that would block out natural light.
Now that you have considered the audience’s response to the text and how they have been positioned to have this response, you can start to write sentences or paragraphs about your text. Consider the paragraph starters below as some effective ways in which you might want to open your discussion.
1. The audience are positioned to see [insert the event/place/character/etc that is the focus of your text] as being [insert adjective]. The [director/journalist/etc] achieves this through their use of [insert techniques].
2. The purpose of the [director/journalist/etc] was to encourage the audience to see [event/place/character/etc] as [adjective]. The most important technique they used was [technique].
3. The [director/journalist/etc] effectively utilised a range of techniques in combination with each other to ensure the audience thought that [event/place/character/etc] was [adjective]. An example of this is when [technique] and [technique] are used together when [provide example moment from the text].
4. When [example moment from the text], the [director/journalist/etc] encourages the audience to feel that [event/place/character/etc] was [adjective]. During this moment, the use of [technique] enhances the audience’s understanding by…
Once you have begun your paragraph, you will then need to explain the techniques in more detail, connecting them clearly to the adjectives you have identified in your table and then providing an example where these techniques are used.
Two examples can be found below.
The audience are positioned to see the city as being a claustrophobic, constricted and unlikable setting. The director suggests this through the use of ground-level, low angle shots of the city, with the camera occasionally looking up at tall buildings that block out natural light. The audience first experience this when they watch the protagonist walk through the streets night for the first time, framed by tight camera shots and tall brick walls. These shots, along with the way that the top of the buildings are never in frame, provide the impression that the city is a claustrophobic place which feels unwelcoming. The audience are positioned to sense that this setting is restricting the freedom of the protagonist and they desperately want her to escape the confines of the city.
WRITTEN OPINION PIECE
In the opening paragraph, the journalist encourages the audience to feel that the protest was an inappropriate and violent response to the issue. Throughout the paragraph, the use of emotive language and an aggressive tone enhances the audience’s understanding of the writer’s opinion, positioning them to sympathise with the bystanders and direct their anger towards the protesters. By describing the protest as “overblown”, “out of proportion” and the protesters as having a “pathetic approach where aggression is supposed to be interpreted as being reasonable,” the author clearly defines the direction in which his piece will head. He justifies this position by carefully selecting his interviewees throughout the piece, as the audience hear the perspectives of those who were aggrieved by the protest without hearing the voices of any of the protesters themselves. This all works together to encourage the audience to see not only this protest as having been inappropriate, but also to see any future protests of this kind as being similarly detrimental to the cause of the protesters.