Monday, 15 March 2010


In what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

My work consists of a front cover, contents page, and an article, which is a double page spread plus another single page. Harmony is the name of my magazine and the genre of music it contains is mainly pop. After carrying out some research I decided that I would create a magazine aimed at women, aged 17-25 because they were lacking in the market. It is a monthly magazine so that the cost isn’t too great and people can therefore afford to keep buying it. The colour scheme I chose for the magazine was pink and purple as they are stereotypically feminine colours to appeal to my audience. I used these colours consistently through out my magazine to give it a sense of identity. This is a common convention of all magazines such as, NME, which is famous for its red and black colour scheme. In designing a music magazine for women I have challenged the conventions of the industry because many music magazines target men. Also by mid to late teens, my research told me that most females preferred a lifestyle and celebrity magazine which is why my magazine is not all about the music; it looks at other things they are interested in order to appeal to them. This is a copy of an NME cover and as you can see the colours and general style of the magazine is stereotypically masculine, with the male artists and dark colours.

It does however follow many other conventions of real media products for example; I have used hooks on the cover to grab the reader’s attention, and one main image. As well as this there are the more simple conventions like having a masthead, strap line, barcode and a price on the cover. To make the cover look tidy and professional the hooks are justified down the right and left sides of the page, so not to interfere with the main image. The photo of my models is a medium close up in which they are staring straight at the camera, this draws attention to the cover and is a common magazine style. According to the theory of Naomi Wolf (1991) by using attractive women you are appealing to your audience because women aspire to be like them and therefore buy the magazine. Another theory, which I looked at, was the theory of Marjorie Ferguson (1980.) She identified four types of facial expressions, which occur in most women’s magazines:
My photo would come under the category chocolate box, although you can see their teeth the pose is not dramatic enough to me classed as super smiley. This invites the audience to read on inside without the image being so overpowering that it puts them off.

My models’ photo would come under the category of chocolate box; although you can see their teeth the pose is not dramatic enough to be classed as a super-smiler and is rather still. The models’ heads just cover part of the magazine name but it can still be easily read, which is also a common convention of cover layout.
I carried out a survey to see what people thought I should call the magazine the favourite was ‘Harmony.’ This fits in with my female audience and also has links to music. Not only does it have connotations of music but also of co-operation and friendship. I wanted to promote an ambience of friendship so readers would feel welcomed and more inclined to buy it.

The mast-head and strap line are large enough so that they can be easily recognised, a common convention of magazines. I added effects such a drop shadow and bevel and emboss on Photoshop to make them stand out further. Above the mast-head there are the names of some popular artists which my target audience are interested in that are featured inside the magazine. The names are contained inside a menu bar. If people can easily see that there is a person they a fan of inside the magazine they are more likely to buy it.

It is a convention that magazines use a limited number of fonts and text colours so that the page does not look too busy and confuses the reader. An example of this is Vibe magazine this particular issue uses a red and black colour scheme throughout and has only two different fonts.

By putting the barcode price and date all together in one corner I am not detracting the attention away from the rest of the cover, again this is a common feature of any magazine. All the text, which has hooks for stories, is justified down the left and right side to make it look professional and tidy. The hooks are all for stories which people survey in my questionnaire said they would like to see in the magazine. In order for the readers to be able to distinguish between the hooks and the main story I have put the text in a much larger font and added effects. The name of the band ‘Miss-Fits’ is in completely different font, baby kruffy, and I have used a gradient tool so that it stands out even further. It is important that the main story is the most obvious on the cover because this is a convention of all magazines such as NME, Closer and Blender.

By using a word like ‘exclusive’ it makes the reader think that they are getting something extra from this magazine that they cannot read anywhere else. I got this idea from ‘OK’ magazine, which is a popular women’s celebrity, and fashion magazine.

My contents page has similar aspects to NME contents pages in that it is split up into sections so that the story you are looking for is easier to find. I have photos of stories featured inside. A letter from the editor also features on this page, although music magazines don’t do this very often, apart from the odd one like Uncut. A lot of women’s magazines like, closer do and because my magazine is aimed at women I saw this as a good way to appeal to my market.

The heading “contents” is in large text at the top of the page so that there is no confusion for the readers. I chose to overlap the month of the issue over the top because it means that there is enough space to include all of the other information a contents page needs. I got this idea from a teen magazine called Bliss. The bottom half of the page is dedicated to the stories inside the magazine; there is the page number and a little bit of information about what they can expect to see or read. It is important to have page numbers as this is a common convention and also makes it easy for the reader to find a story that caught their eye on the front cover. This is regularly seen in music magazines. Down the side I have a created a sort of filmstrip in which some photos featured inside the magazine are shown. There are boxes around the outside of the photos to make them look attractive. I added effects such as drop shadow and bevel and emboss to give the illusion that the photos are Polaroid’s coming out of the page. By sticking with the same colour scheme of pink and purple I am allowing the magazine to flow better as well as complying with conventions. Whilst doing my research I found that a lot of magazines talk a little bit about what readers can expect to find in next months issue. I chose to do this as well by writing about it at the end of my editor’s letter; this will keep the reader interested and persuade them to continue buying the magazine.

My feature article also follows many conventions of a real magazine article. First of all one of the most basic conventions is that the text is all set out into columns in a question and answer format. Again the text and colours are similar to the rest of the magazine to illustrate consistency and professionalism. The use of quotations is also seen regularly in articles so I included this feature. The images are also an important part of the article as they are a strong visual means of making people want to read on.

This is an example of closer magazine using quotations in their articles:

“He told us we would be better off pursuing a career in something more on our level like pole dancing!” It is a shocking quotation and therefore will immediately grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. This is how I appeal to my reader. I have used four different photos and have adjusted them all to brighten the colour using curves and colour balance on Photoshop. The main image is half the size of the double page; this is often done in music magazines. Before putting the image onto the article I cropped it so that the models would be the main focus of the photo and not the surrounding area. I have added captions beside or underneath the photos to explain what it is showing because this is a technique often used. The opening paragraph is used to catch the reader’s attention and make them want to read on even if they were just planning on scanning through. The text starts with a letter H that is larger then the rest of the text this is a very common way to start feature articles in magazines. At the end of the article there is a web address, which readers can log into to see an online web chat version of the interview with ‘Miss-Fits.’ As well as this the website features lots of other little extras such as competitions and, information on the bands exclusive gigs before they go on sale to the masses. This will appeal to my target audience as it involves new popular technology.

How does your media product represent social groups?
My feature article was the area where I decided to concentrate on highlighting a particular social group. From my research I had already decided that it would represent late teens- early 20’s females with an interest in music. The story is about three young girls who have made it into the music business via a TV talent show but prior to that they faced huge set backs in the industry for reasons such as sexism and not having a lot of money. The whole point is that even though they faced difficulties both for being from working class families and for their gender, they never gave up until they achieved their dream. This will be inspirational to readers and encourage them to follow in the girls’ footsteps not necessarily in the music industry but just to pursue their dreams in general. Not only does the article portray young women in a positive light is also show that just because you are from a background that might be considered disadvantaged it does not mean you have to stay that way for the rest of your life.

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
I think that Bauer would be a good company to distribute my magazine. It is home to some of the biggest and most influential magazines in the UK like the popular music magazine Q, so I think it would be perfect. They distribute a wide range of magazines but they currently do not have any music magazines aimed at young women so by adding my magazine to their chain they will be broadening their target audience even further therefore increasing their profit. Also because Bauer is associated with lots of successful magazines such as Mojo and Grazia it already has the infrastructure to get my magazine into stores and can support a magazine aimed at a niche audience. As there are not really any music magazines for young women out there at the minute it so I would be opening up a new market amongst a niche audience and, therefore, increasing Bauer’s profits.

What would be the audience for your media product?
I decided to aim my magazine at young women aged 17-25 as this was the most popular age range to buy magazines in my questionnaire. My magazine mainly contains pop music, as this was the favourite genre chosen by my target audience. By pricing my magazine at £2.50 it is just under the price of many other magazines on the market such as OK, a magazine that my target audience frequently buy, as well as other music magazine such as Q and Uncut which although they might not necessarily buy they can still compare prices with. This gives my magazine a competitive edge.

When carrying out my research I found that the young women who are most likely to buy my type of magazine are lower middle or upper-working class as they are the ones which have disposable income to spend on things like CD’s, downloads, concerts, and of course magazines, hence the reason I chose to aim my product at them. Another common thing magazine companies do to get people to buy their magazine over others is to give away free gifts or advertise big competitions on the cover. I decided to have a competition in which people can win 2 tickets to see Beyonce live at the O2 arena in London.

How did you attract/address your audience?
Before I even started to make the magazine I handed out questionnaires to my target audience to see what they would like to see in a music magazine. From the results I was able to tailor my magazine to fit the needs of my audience therefore appealing directly to them using hooks and stories that interest them. The models on the cover and throughout my magazine are around the same age as my target audience, but they are famous so this will attract people further. According to Naomi Wolf’s ‘Beauty Myth’ (1991) women buy magazines with other attractive women on the cover because patriarchal society conditions women to aspire to be like them and, they see them as positive role models, hence the reason I used the girls that I did on my cover. This also ties in with the Uses and Gratifications theory because my target audience will identify with the people and stories on the cover, even if it is just wishful thinking and as a result will be more likely to buy the product. For example the main story features three girls that wanted to make it in the music industry and despite major setbacks they never gave up and finally achieved their dream. This story will inspire other young women like them to follow their own dreams and will make them feel good about themselves. Another aspect of Uses and Gratifications is that people can rely on the media product for ‘information’. The main cover photo relates to this story, the photograph I used relates to Marjorie Fergusons facial expressions (1980) and would come under the ‘chocolate box’ expression because it is a sweet, angelic pose. This will attract my audience because they will aspire to be like the girls in the photo without feeling too intimidated by them.

Another way I attracted my audience was to mention famous artists and bands on the cover to grab attention. By using colloquial language and contractions throughout the magazine it will make the reader feel like we are on the same level and that they can relate to what is being said. Because women tend to be more interested in lifestyle magazines I decided not to make my magazine all about the music and looked at other aspects such as the fashion of the artists and what goes on in their lives. This will keep the audience interested because I am not just concentrating on one particular side of music. Even some of the most successful magazines such as Q are beginning to take this direction in order to attract a wider audience. Involving your audience plays a huge part in getting magazine sales, which is why I have included a competition on my front cover. By getting the audience involved you give them a sense of ownership, they are no longer passive readers, so they’d be more likely to buy the magazine.

After I completed my magazine, I handed out the finished product to 25 people who fit the categories for my target audience. The main reason for doing this was to get some feedback and to see if they thought that my magazine would be successful. This was what a few of them had to say:

“I really like the idea of a music magazine for women, I love music but there was never any magazines out there aimed at me. The cover grabbed my attention straight away with the bright colours.”
Ashleigh, 18 student

“The main article was really inspirational and made me want to follow my dream, the way it was set out with the quote at the top with the big photo immediately made me want to read on.”
Beth, 21 sales assistant

“I loved the whole of the magazine. The hooks on the cover were really affective because as soon as I saw them it made me want to look inside to see what else I would find.”
Leanne, 19 beautician

“The colours and fonts are really pretty and girly. The editor’s letter on the contents page gave you information about what you could find in the next issue as well as this one. I thought that this was good because it’ll make people look forward to next month’s issue and buy it.”
Hannah, 22 student

“I think the magazine will sell really well it is full of information and looks attractive. It also appealed to me because it is priced slightly lower than existing magazines on the market.”
Amy, 20 airhostess

After reading over people’s views and reflecting on my work myself, I feel that what I have produced could be successful in the media industry. It could go on sale in newsagents and other magazine selling companies where it would most likely compete with the wide range of women’s celebrity magazines out there, such as Closer and Reveal. I don’t think that would particularly compete with other music magazines because they are primarily aimed at a male audience.

What have you learnt about new technologies from the process of creating this product?
The first new skill I learned while creating this project was how to use a digital camera and tripod to take high quality photos as well as being able to adjust the white balance.

I also learned a lot of new skills whilst using Photoshop. For example I now know how to cut out images on Photoshop and manipulate them in order to make them brighter. This was my photo just after I cut it out before playing around with the colour balance.

After brightening the photo by adding curves, altering the hue/saturation and colour balance it looked like this:

I also learned how to make text stand out on the page by adding drop shadow, bevel and emboss, and gradient. An example of this is on my front cover where I have added bevel and emboss and well as using the gradient tool to give the text ‘Miss-Fits’ two colours so that it would stand out from the other text on the page. Now I have the skill to be critical of my own work in a positive way in order to get the best possible result, I took hundreds of photos on the digital camera and was able to single out the best ones to use in my magazine.

Before I started this project I had never used a blog before and now I can easily update my progress for my work on BlogSpot. BlogSpot only the examiner and other markers of my work would be able to see it but, because it is posted online anybody who wishes to can view both my practical work and research.
By doing this I have created a media product in the age of web 2.0 that has been published on the internet, which can be accepted by an international audience, therefore who potentially, could give me feedback on my work.

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?
When I look back at my preliminary work I know that I have learned an awful lot about how to create a magazine. With my preliminary task I did not have a great deal of time to pull everything together but my final product had a much longer production period. This allowed me to research music magazines thoroughly and analyse them to see what products existed on the market. This allowed me to see what conventions they used and loom at how magazines of different genres appealed to their audiences. In doing this I was able to create a magazine that was a bit different and that would target my audience more effectively. Not only did I learn a lot about research but this task also enabled me to improve my technical skills greatly. My work now looks more professional because I can use effects to manipulate images to make them look better and can reorganise the layout until it looks the best it can because I became more confident with imaging software and desk top publishing. Because people have commented on my work, I can take the feedback they give on board and see if there is anything I can do to improve it. All of these things would make my magazine more likely to succeed against existing products on the market like, NME, Q magazine, and even celebrity and lifestyle magazines such a Closer. The magazine I have produced is suitable for a national audience, as opposed to a localised one and to do this I’ve understood the importance of analysis research of existing products, as well as the importance of finding out what my audience needs and how to best appeal to that audience.