Media Studies Textual Analysis

A set of cards for analysing a media textby Chris Jones and Sam Dobbins

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Media Representations

• Who is being represented?
• In what way?
• By whom? (links to institution)
• Why is the subject being represented in this way? (links to ideology)
• Is the representation fair and accurate?
• What opportunities exist for self-representation by the subject?

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Media Languages and Forms

• What are the denotative and connotative levels of meaning?
• What is the significance of the text’s connotations?
• What are the non-verbal structures of meaning in the text (e.g. gesture, facial
expression, positional communication, clothing, props etc)?
• What is the significance of mise-en-scène/sets/settings?
• What work is being done by the sound track/commentary/language of the text?
• What are the dominant images and iconography, and what is their relevance to
the major themes of the text?
• What sound and visual techniques are used to convey meaning (e.g. camera
positioning, editing; how are images and sounds combined to convey
meaning)?

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Narrative

• How is the narrative organised and structured?
• How is the audience positioned in relation to the narrative?
• How are characters delineated? What is their narrative function? How are
heroes and villains created?
• What techniques of identification and alienation are employed?
• What is the role of such features as sound, music, iconography, genre, miseen-
scène, editing etc. within the narrative?
• What are the major themes of the narrative? What values/ideologies does it
embody?

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Genre

• To which genre does the text belong?
• What are the major generic conventions within the text?
• What are the major iconographic features of the text?
• What are the major generic themes?
• To what extent are the characters generically determined?
• To what extent are the audience’s generic expectations of the text fulfilled or
cheated by the text? Does the text conform to the characteristics of the genre,
or does it treat them playfully or ironically?
• Does the text feature a star, a director, a writer etc who is strongly associated
with the genre? What meanings and associations do they have?

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Media Institutions

• What is the institutional source of the text?
• In what ways has the text been influenced or shaped by the institution which
produced it?
• Is the source a public service or commercial institution? What difference does
this make to the text?
• Who owns and controls the institution concerned and does this matter?
• How has the text been distributed?

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Media Values and Ideology

• What are the major values, ideologies and assumptions underpinning the text
or naturalised within it?
• What criteria have been used for selecting the content presented?

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Media Audiences

• To whom is the text addressed? What is the target audience?
• What assumptions about the audience’s characteristics are implicit within the
text?
• What assumptions about the audience are implicit in the text’s scheduling or
positioning ?
• In what conditions is the audience likely to receive the text?
• Does this impact upon the formal characteristics of the text?
• What do you know or can you assume about the likely size and constituency
of the audience?
• What are the probable and possible audience readings of the text?
• How do you, as an audience member, read and evaluate the text? To what
extent is your reading and evaluation influenced by your age, gender,
background etc?

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