Men’s Health, Oh Comely and Simplified Gauntlett! A Level Media CSPs and some identity note help.

I’ve put together some note to help you  . . . here!


A.C.E. Or how to write decent arguments in an A Level media, Paper 2, 25 mark question!

Do your answers look like this?

They start out full of good intentions, and detailed knowledge, but go all wrong in the execution? (Yes I broke out a clip from Buster Keaton’s “The General” to illustrate your epic failure).

Here is a plan to make your answers less crashy and more answery!

Playing the Game: Writing about Game Content: AQA Media A Level. Tomb Raider Anniversary, Metroid: Prime 2 Echoes and Sims Freeplay.

Looking through a recent set of essays by some of my students I was struck by something really important. So important that I had to sit down and write this to help my students and other students who might find themselves in this particular brand of pickle.

Find it here.

Capital notes. Now with added Feminism!


So today I created the following question template.

How do the television products that you have studied reflect theories of _____________ including ______________? 25 marks.

I also put the following into a random wheel to generate the question with my class:

  • Representation (Hall)
  • Feminism (Van Zoonen/hooks)
  • Narrative (Todorov)
  • Industries (Hesmondhalgh)
  • Media Language (semiotics)
  • Genre (Neale)
  • Audience (Gerbner/Hall)

Making the question:

How do the television products that you have studied reflect theories concerning feminism including Van Zoonen? 25 marks.

Guess which one I didn’t have Capital notes for (tbh the CSP notes didn’t specify it though the Deutschland 83 ones did -odd)?

So I went and made some supa-useful notes!

Bon appetito!


Churnalism!The Voice Online! Stuff I should have remembered before.


This morning I read a really useful media related piece. It’s a long read from The Guardian written by Alan Rusbridger, who used to be editor-in-chief, about why newspapers and journalism is in trouble at the moment. It focuses on a wide range of topics (like the phone hacking scandal) but during it he mentions “churnalism.” I already knew about this and I kicked myself for not writing it into my notes on The Voice Online.

Churnalism is a term used to describe the process whereby news sources churn out content very cheaply by simply taking material from press releases, advertising copy and news agencies, and working it (often simply cutting and pasting) into a news article. Some times they might find a local angle but usually they don’t bother.

You might have seen films and T.V. programmes (perhaps even read books) which depict the world of journalism. In them fearless reporters, in the mode of Woodward and Berstein, spend days, weeks, even months tracking down a story and bringing it to light.

It’s all a big myth. In 2008 the journalist Nick Davies wrote a book called “Flat Earth News” which laid the process bare. It began with the creation of international news agencies (even when I was a local news reporter in the 1980s there were two agency machines, one from Reuters and one from Associated Press, clonking out line after line of news story to aid the newsroom team) but accelerated as the P.R. industry took off.


Nick Davies.

Davies is a multi-award winning investigative reporter but he wrote about how newspapers were doing less and less of their own investigations. Even then (in 2008), he reported, 80% of British news stories were not original and only 12% were the result of investigation. I guess the percentage is even lower now.

Once the internet ripped into the profits of newspapers then churnalism became even more prevalent. Newspapers needed to fire their staff (expensive) but produce pages to sell advertising space on; which leads us to The Voice Online. This is how one journalist can create so much copy. Nothing is queried or checked, it’s all just churned out from press releases and advertising copy.

It is also another reason why The Voice online is a terrible CSP.

P.S. I’m tired. I nearly posted an image of milk churning from the Polish Eurovision entry in 2014 at the start of this piece, but then realised how completely unsafe it was. Hence the little Polish milk-churning doll instead. Enjoy.

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