Media studies is an umbrella term for our media and how we interact and engage with its different forms. There will be two externals for you to wrestle with, each pertaining to a different area of the media. First up we have AS91490 which you must put your focus on demonstrating knowledge from a particular aspect of media. You’ll need to identify the aspect of the media and then talk about how this functions and works together In the grand scheme of things. You’ll also address the impact which will be anything from political, social, cultural, ideological, technological or economic. Always remember that to obtain excellence the examiner is looking for a high degree of perceptiveness, so that you can evaluate the impact of the media aspect within the industry more effectively. You can write about parts of the media industry that include the global music industry, Hollywood films, New Zealand’s tv industry or even the newspaper industry. Within this, you will talk about things like audience, technology, regulation, demand and organization.

We then have AS91493, where you have to demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between a media genre and society. This will be done by talking about the impact of the genre/society. This can be political, social, cultural or ideological. To get that excellence your answer must be perceptive and insightful. A media genre relationship can include horror as a genre or how War influenced cinema for example.

If you're looking at getting some tips for Media Studies Level 3 check out this blog here.  Perhaps you would like some assistance with Media Studies Scholarship? Or maybe check out a helpful Study Guide here. You can also see the complete year's course overview on Media Studies here.

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Let's go

Let’s check out an exemplar and unpack the essay questions

NCEA Media Studies Past Papers. Let's have a look into some of the exemplars to see how best to navigate the media studies exams.

Let’s jump into AS91490, and have a detailed look at some exemplar excellence examples. First up is 2016’s exemplar. As with all NCEA exams, you must pay detailed attention to the exams’ questions. Remember to bring your highlighter to truly dissect each angle and aspect of the question. For starters, the 2016 exemplar asks you to pick one media industry. Be very careful to consider the impact of your chosen media aspect on the industry. In the 2016 exemplar, the candidate picked question 2. This was the statement that “the media industries struggle to keep up with technological changes”. Within their answer, the candidate makes reference to American playwright and journalist Arthur Miller exclaiming that a good newspaper is a “nation talking to itself”. What does this mean and why is it relevant? His argument was that a decent newspaper allows for democracy to do well and fulfil its democratic sensibilities.

For many years newspapers have been there to fact check and represent unbiased perspectives, to reflect society back at itself. But this student argues that technology has swiftly changed this interaction. With the arrival of things like new media which includes Facebook, Instagram and many more, there has been an underlying threat that newspaper medium will die out. More and more journalists are going online to share their stories instead of opting for print. While writing, make sure you examine the various effects be it social, political, ideological, cultural etc.  For example, an economic aspect would be the underestimation and naïve stance that newspapers met the internet with. The student demonstrates that 24,000 journalists lost their job from 2004-2009. This is a significant number and one that would have had a great impact on society at the time.  Ad revenue was waning because of this and meant that there could be fewer publications making it to print. There is also a huge social effect, that culturally has shifted how we engage with our news. No longer were we receiving our news on the doorstep, or if we were it was truly rare. Instead, we are curled up over our laptops and on our screens, sometimes paying through paywalls to get our news and digest it in that manner.

Find out about NCEA media studies Internal tips here.

24,000 journalists lost their job from 2004-2009. Let's discuss the media effects of this. (NCEA Media Studies Past Papers).

Let’s put the microscope under the Newspaper media changes

 In the 2016 essay, the candidate clearly outlines the changing nature of print media and also goes further at talking about how Print and Radio have begun the trend of merging. This happens when they mention that the New Zealand Herald and Radio Live merged in 2015.

Later, some of the solution or damage control was to have media companies change their style from a more traditional news setup to tabloid-style pieces focussed on intense emotions like grief. This is to get the people more energised and engage with the content as people have less of an attention span with the rise of apps like Tik Tok and YouTube, which feed users bite-sized content. Also, stories with more shock value are prioritised as they get more people curious to read out of morbid interest.

This also meant that the Newspaper Industry was being driven by what the audience were wanting. Seriousness in tone was changed to a much more entertaining themed model, which meant that a much wider audience could be reached. Even the New Zealand Herald has been guilty on now focussing on more sensational content says Brain Edwards in a 2014 opinion piece.

It’s time for Media Genres with the next External

AS91493 is next up as far as externals go. Let’s dive into it, shall we? This one is all about media genres. To complete this you will unpack your chosen genre and its relationship with society. Like the previous exam, you will be given some statements to pick from and be asked to pick the one where you can best back up using a variety of examples. It’s also up to you whether you disagree or agree with the statement. To do this let’s take a look at 2016’s exemplar of excellence. This will help us in learning how we might best answer this kind of question.

Genres as an aspect are heavily influenced by the audience who want to see themselves be portrayed on screen. The relationship is always changing because society and people as a whole are always adapting and shifting. In the 2016 exemplar, the genre discussed was the Hollywood Romantic Genre. First up we have Screwball comedy which became popularized during the Great Depression. The main way this genre was expressed was to show love as a spoof and make it appear light-hearted. Within the genre, the female character was shown to be dominant and the male character was challenged in some way by this idea. This kind of made an interplaying battle of the sexes which was very evident during the 1930s.

The first known ‘Rom Com’ was called ‘It Happened One Night’ and features a strong heroine who is tamed by a man of a much lower status. This film has Ellie the main character gaining wisdom and life lessons from the poor and needy after her previous rich upbringing. This resonated with a Great Depression audience, who enjoyed seeing the character development from the heiress who developed more working-class ideals. In choosing Peter the newspaper reporter who recently has lost his job, we get a window into society into the poorer parts of it. Audiences took to seeing this be portrayed on screen and also seeing the heiress choose the man who once had nothing, get the girl in the end.

'It happened One Night' was a popular Screwball comedy that was influenced by audiences greatly. (NCEA Media Studies Past Papers).

World War 2 then showed a big departure from the genres showcased in the 1930s. While screwball comedies always warranted the guarantee of a happy ending, later Rom Coms would tip this on the head, as audiences had a shift in priorities. No longer were audiences shown happy-go-lucky and positive storylines with jovial cheer, but instead, they were being exposed to more realistic kinds of portrayals of people and relationships. This included showcasing a more pessimistic attitude to match the bleak actualities that people had faced during the war at the time.

Rom Coms according to Mortimer “reflect the trappings of the nuclear family unit”, which is also mentioned in the 2016 exemplar. We see in the “Pillow Talk” movie a career woman, established by the post-world war extremities. Throughout the movie, there is a voice-over that utters “bedroom problems”, where the audience is revealed the realities of domestic life. The director portrays that it’s difficult to switch back to domestic life for women after they had helped out during the War. Clearly, the genre shows the impact and change with how the audience’s priorities shifted over time.

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