Example B323 Media Studies Exam Answers

Extract: ‘Essentials’ magazine

1. Explain two ways in which the extract fits the genre of lifestyle magazines.
[10]
Essentials magazine fits the genre of lifestyle magazines by following many of the conventions of
lifestyle magazines. For instance, the front page is dominated by a large image. This is something that
nearly all lifestyle magazines do, in order to catch the reader’s eye and entice them to buy the
magazine. In this case, the image is of an attractive, well dressed, happy middle-aged woman. The
main cover images of lifestyle magazines are usually aspirational, whether they contain a person,
place or object, it is always something that the reader will aspire to have or be. In this case, the target
audience for this magazine will aspire to be as attractive, well dressed, and happy as the woman on
the cover. The implication is that the magazine can help you to achieve this, so readers will want to
buy the magazine to become more like the woman on the cover.
Another way that the magazine fits the genre of lifestyle magazines is by the use of direct address in
the coverlines, and inside the magazine. Some examples of coverlines that use direct address include
“Keep summer in your garden”, “Love you! Confidence boosts to make you feel good” and “100
genius little tips. Your best time, stress & sanity savers!” The use of the words “you” and “your” in
these coverlines, implies that these article have been written specifically for the reader, and make
them feel that the magazine is catering individually for them. This will help to entice the reader to buy
the magazine.
Although this is a women’s magazine and features many generic conventions that all women’s
magazines share, it differs from many women’s magazines in a few subtle ways. Essentials magazine
is aimed at the average middle-aged women with families, probably in the C1C2D demographics.
Because of this, the contents of the magazine differ somewhat from the majority of women’s
magazines. There is less of a focus on fashion and beauty, especially more expensive fashion and
beauty products. The content of the magazine tends to focus on cooking, homes, gardens and family
life. The contents are still aspirational, but instead of aspiring to material things, it is aspiring to a
perfect family life.
2. Give one example of each of the following and explain how it is used in the extract to
create effect:
• Layout
• Typography
• Use of language
• Use of colour
[20]
The layout of the magazine is busy without being cluttered. There is very little white space on the
cover or the other pages. The cover is dominated by an image of a woman and she is surrounded by
coverlines of varying sizes, which seem like they have been squeezed into every available space.
Some of the coverlines overlap onto the image, but do not cover her face. The woman’s head even
overlaps the masthead slightly. This creates the effect that the magazine is packed full of content &
information. It also gives the magazine a more casual, informal feel. This helps to entice the reader by
being unintimidating, making them feel comfortable picking up the magazine and reading it.

There is a mix of serif and sans serif fonts throughout the magazine. Some coverlines even have both
serif and sans serif fonts in one coverline. For instance, the coverline “Love you! Confidence boosts to
make you feel good” uses a serif font for the words “Love you!” and a sans serif font for the rest of the
coverline. There are several other coverlines that do this, and this coupled with the busy layout helps
to create a sense of informality. In the large pink puff at the bottom right hand corner of the cover, they
use a font that looks like handwriting for the word “Yes!” in the coverline “Yes! Life just got simpler”.
This is an exclamation, and the hand-written style font helps you to imagine someone, or yourself
making the exclamation. This creates the effect of getting the reader excited about the article and the
magazine as a whole.
The language used throughout the magazine is generally simple and informal. The best example of
this is the editor’s letter, which is written in a chatty style, as if she is speaking directly to the reader.
The editor’s letter contains abbreviations and slang words such as “niggly” which help to create this
informal feel. The magazine adds to this effect by using lots of direct address, both in the coverlines,
and inside the magazine. The use of words such as “you” & “your”, help to make the articles feel like
they are written specifically for the reader. An example of a coverline that uses direct address is “Love
you! Confidence boosts to make you feel good”. The second “you” in the coverline is underlined to
further enhance the sense of direct address.
The main colours used in the magazine are bright pink and orange. These are typically feminine
colours, which would help appeal to the intended target audience for the magazine. Also, the fact that
they are bright colours helps to make the magazine seem fun and friendly, and even a bit youthful.
These fun, friendly colours add to the effect created by the layout, typography and language, making
the magazine seem inviting and unintimidating. The magazine makes you feel comfortable reading it,
like talking to a friend, someone who is an equal, rather than someone who thinks that they are better
than you, talking down to you.
3. Discuss how people and lifestyles are represented in the extract. Use examples from
the extract. Refer to stereotypes in your answer.
[20]
The target audience for Essentials magazine is aimed at primarily at women, aged between late
twenties and forties, who have families. The image of the woman on the front cover is in her thirties or
forties, but is attractive, well dressed and looks extremely happy. Even on the inside pages, all of the
images of women, whether it is the younger, more attractive models, or the slightly older readers, are
all smiling and appear to be really happy. A happy life seems to be what the magazine is offering
readers.
The magazine contains many typical contents of women’s magazines, such as fashion, beauty &
health, but as it is aimed at women with families, it offers this content in a way that is not expensive,
and does not take up a lot of time. Examples of coverlines that show this include “Mini breaks – cheap
& chic” and “Get Money Smart: How to save a little & live a lot”. Essentials seems to be implying that
women should be able to achieve their idealised perfect life that includes a partner, children, nice
house & garden, while managing to stay looking young & beautiful, dressing fashionably and staying
healthy. All of this can be done while managing a home, cooking for a family and maintaining an active
social life. The magazine purports to provide women with ways to juggle all of these responsibilities
and expectations, without costing them lots of money or taking up lots of time, as these are two
commodities that many people with families may not have a much of.
The representation of women in Essentials magazine is very stereotypical. Their view of femininity is
that women in their target audience should be slim, healthy, beautiful and fashionable. It is also
assumed that these women should be married, or at least in a stable long term heterosexual
relationship, and have children, or at least be planning a family. This is shown by the referral to her

children in the editor’s letter. There is no mention anywhere in the extract of single women,
homosexual relationships or single parent families. This limited viewpoint of middle-aged women’s
lives is not representative of many women in the UK, who do not fit into this narrow idealised version
of family life. Many women in the target age bracket for Essentials magazine may be single,
homosexual, childless, non-white, have some sort of physical or mental impairment and have little
interest in their home, garden, fashion or beauty. There is no mention of other interests that women
may have such as sport, cars, politics & current affairs. These are assumed to be masculine interests
by Essentials magazine and are therefore not included.
Throughout the magazine extract, there is a limited representation of ethnicity. Every image in the
magazine is of white women. This is not an accurate representation of the female population, as there
are a range of nationalities, cultures & ethnicities in the UK. In addition to this, all people represented
in the magazine are able bodied and there is no mention of mental disabilities in the magazine. This is
another section of the population that are not represented in Essentials magazine.

4.

(a) Compare how and why two programmes were scheduled on different channels. State the
day, time and channel on which the two programmes were scheduled.
[15]
For my answer, I have chosen to compare Have I Got News For You, which was scheduled on BBC1
on Thursdays at 9pm, and Scrubs, which is scheduled on E4 using a stripped schedule. Two
consecutive episodes of Big Bang Theory are shown on weekdays on E4, repeated two times during
the day, at 6.00pm & 6.30pm, and 12.30am & 01.00am. This is called a stripped schedule.
BBC1 is a mass audience channel, as it appeals to a wide range of demographics, with a variety of
programmes throughout the day. For example, they schedule programmes aimed at pensioners and
housewives during the day, between 10am & 2pm, such as Bargain Hunt and Doctors. The 3pm to
5pm slot is filled with programmes specifically aimed at young children and teenagers, such as
Ooglies and Newsround. In the early evening, programmes on BBC1 appeal to a family audience,
programmes that can be watched and enjoyed by children and adults alike, such as The One Show
and Eastenders. After the watershed at 9pm, BBC1 shows programmes aimed directly at an older
adult audience (30+), such as my example Have I Got News For You, Masterchef and Upstairs
Downstairs.
E4 has a more niche audience than BBC1, aiming its programmes more at 15-35 year olds.
Programmes such as 90210 and Desperate Housewives appeal specifically to this demographic, and
they do not show programmes that appeal to younger children, or older adults.
E4 is able to only show programmes that appeal to one demographic, because it is a commercial
channel. It can buy in and show mainly imported American programmes, rather than making its own.
BBC1 is restricted by the Public Service Broadcasting (PSB) rules, so Have I Got News For You
meets the BBC’s PSB obligations, because it is a news-based comedy programme, so adds to the
variety of programmes they air. It is also made in the UK so again fulfils another of the BBC’s PSB
obligations.
Have I Got News For You is shown at 9pm, because it is after the watershed, when younger children
should not be watching television, so the panellists are able to discuss the often sensitive issue that
arise in the news, without fear of being censored. This is also an appropriate slot for this programme

as it is just prior to the news, so there is a good chance of getting good viewing figures, as people who
are interested in news and current affairs may be watching at this time of the evening, in anticipation
of the evening news programme. The two programmes share similar subject matter, but approach it in
a different way, so compliment each other well.
Big Bang Theory is shown on a stripped schedule, because E4 is allowed to do so, unlike PSB
channels. This allows them to gain maximum value for money out of the programme that they have
paid to import. They can potentially increase their chance of the programme being watched, by
showing it more than once during the day, and this could increase advertising revenue associated with
this show, as well as meaning that they have saved themselves from having to buy or show another
two programmes. The early evening slot is the prime slot for appealing to teenagers, as many other
shows that are aimed at this target audience, are shown at this time on other channels, such as The
Simpsons (Channel 4) and Home & Away (Channel 5). The late evening slot targets a diverse range
of demographics, similar to those for the lunchtime slot. This means that E4 has increased their
chance of gaining an audience for this one programme, by three, which in turn increases the
probability of advertisers wanting to advertise during that programme, and the amount E4 can charge
for the advertising time.

a) Compare the audience pleasures offered by two comedy programmes. Give
examples from the programmes.
[15]
Situation comedies (sitcoms) like Big Bang Theory offer their viewers various audience pleasures.
One of the main reasons that people watch sitcoms like this is for narrative resolution. This essentially
means that people will watch an entire episode, or series of episodes to see the resolution of certain
storylines. In episode 16 of series 6 of Big Bang Theory, Leonard moves out of the apartment that he
shares with Sheldon, and moves in with Penny. This causes conflict, as penny does not want Leonard
to move in with her, and with Leonard gone, Amy tries to move in with Sheldon, which he does not
want. Viewers will watch the whole episode to the end to see whether Leonard moves back in with
Sheldon.
An example of narrative resolution over a series of episodes occurs in series 5 of Big Bang theory,
when in episode 13, Penny and Leonard consider reviving their romantic relationship. Over the next
few episodes, the two characters tentatively rekindle their romance, encountering several obstacles
along the way. Viewers will continue watching each episode to see whether they stay together, or
break up.
Another reason people may watch a comedy programme would be because they relate to the
characters. People tend to watch television shows that feature characters that are of a similar age &
background, have similar jobs or hobbies to them, and are encountering similar social situations to
them. For example, many of the storylines in Big Bang Theory revolve around the socially clueless
male scientist characters, becoming more socially aware, and experiencing meaningful relationships
with the opposite sex. Many young people may watch the show because they are also experiencing
their first romantic relationships. They may feel heartened by watching the show, and seeing that they
are not the only person going through this, and that there are other people out there who find those
relationships difficult.
Relating to characters can also be relevant to non-sitcoms, like comedy panel shows, even though
they have guests, rather than fictional characters. For example, people generally watch have I Got
News For You (HIGNFY), as they relate to the guests on the show. People who watch HIGNFY are
often of a similar age and background to the guests on the show. A show called Mock The Week is
similar to HIGNFY, as it is a political & current affairs based comedy panel show. However, the target

audience for HIGNFY are less likely to watch this show, as it tend to have younger guests, and often
guests from lower socio-economic groups.

People watch comedy shows due to the content and themes. For instance, people who watch
HIGNFY will largely have an interest in politics and current affairs, as this is what all the jokes are
based around. If you didn’t have an interest in politics or current affairs, you may not get all of the
references, may not get the jokes, and may not find the show funny.
This is the same for Big Bang Theory, where the many of the jokes revolve around science or
science-fiction. Viewers who are interested in these themes are more likely to watch Big Bang Theory
as they will get the jokes and understand the references.
The main reason that many people watch comedy shows is because they are entertaining, funny and
make you laugh. An example of a joke or funny situation on HIGNFY was in an episode in series 43,
when the guest host Stephen Mangan talked about a MPs trying to experience what it is like to be out
of work, so they can better help unemployed people. He read a newspaper headline that said ‘Ann
Widecombe spends a week on a council estate’. He then said this was part of ‘the government’s get
back to work scheme – send Ann Widdecombe round to scare them out of their houses and back to
work’. This was funny because he is poking fun at a well-known politician, who is often considered
scary and a bit strange. He is subverting the headline, by giving a false explanation of what really
happened.
An example of a funny situation on Big Bang Theory, was when the character Sheldon tries to prolong
his life, so that he can live long enough to become an android. He starts eating vegetables, such as
sprouts, instead of takeaway food, and takes up jogging. When jogging down the stairs, he falls, as he
is not very athletic or sporty. As he lands from his fall, he passes wind loudly, due to the amount of
vegetables he has been eating. This is a double dose of basic physical comedy. People falling over,
and passing wind are funny on a base level. It is also funny to see the character of Sheldon do this, as
he considers himself so much better than everyone else, and amazing at everything, so to see him fail
in such a funny way is quite satisfying.

[TOTAL = 80]