ISSUES AND DEBATES PAPER
THE MAGAZINE INDUSTRY:
The Magazine industry is one part of a 2 hour exam called Issues and Debates.
In this exam you will need to write 2 essays: one on the concept genre in film
and one on the magazine industry. You will have a choice of 2 questions for
each essay. Each essay is worth 15% of your final A2 grade. Examiners are
looking to see that you understand all the current issues and debates around
these topics using a range of current magazines.
A07: Develop critical arguments about media issues and debates, evaluating
contemporary ideas and applying knowledge of them to texts in order to illustrate
Key aims: Thus unit is an examination of the various debates involved in the
production and consumption of magazines, the commercial and ideological
factors, and the relationships between the magazines, their producers, and their
readers in contemporary society.
Media Languages: Forms and Conventions: detailed study of content, style,
generic conventions, house styles, languages, codes and conventions, modes of
Media Institutions: the role of major magazine companies and tendency to
cross media ownership, marketing and promotion, relationship between
producers and advertiser/sponsor.
Media Audiences: theories of consumption, active audiences, pleasure,
audience targeting and loyalty and continuity, consumerism, the ironic reader.
Media Representations: representations of gender and sexuality, stereotypes
and archetypes, dominant ideologies, representations of public/private issues.
Completing the following tasks will help you to pass the exam:
TASK 1: Introduction to the Magazine Industry
You can do this is a group or individually, you need to have access to a range of
magazines, these should be mainly men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines, and
a few special interest or niche titles.
• Brainstorm what magazines are, can you come up with a one sentence
definition? (look at sheet 2, the Collins dictionary definitinon, how does it
compare to yours?)
• Who reads magazines and why?
• Brainstorm all the magazines you can think of, then separate the titles into
different categories e.g. men’s lifestyle, special interest etc. What is the
predominant genre? What could be the reasons for this?
Can you trace the history of magazines? For example, in Victorian times they
were seen as ‘penny dreadfuls’ and were basically self-help manuals to help
educate people who were not in school. In the 60s they became focused on self-
discovery and self-improvement, an aspirational manual. What are they now?
Think of the idea of Popular Culture, and the idea that magazines are seen by
some as disposable, trashy, etc. ’ Discuss this notion and why it exists.
TASK 3: Textual Analysis
Look at sheet 3, ensure that you understand what it means to be analitcal rather
Choose a magazine it’s best to do this with a magazine you’re not familiar with so
that you don’t make any assumptions.
• analyze and decode the cover (use sheets 4- 8 to help)
• do a contents audit of the types of things that are inside the magazine e.g.
adverts, editorial, articles, letters, reviews, problem pages, etc
• Consider the relationship between contents and target audience
• Identify the demographic/psychographic of the magazine (sheet 9)
• Write a detailed analysis of the front cover, including a discussion on the
relationship between the contents and the target audience and audience
TASK 4: Case study 1
Read the case study of Men’s Health (Sheets 10 and 11) as an example of a
brief case study.
As a group choose a lifestyle magazine that is not well known to you (i.e.
Psychologies or Dazed and Confused). Complete the steps in task 3 also
considering mode of address. Write a one paragrapgh reader profile for the
magazine. See http://deemcguinness.edublogs.org (blog set up by Media
teacher) Password for the blog: bfi. PowerPoint re: modes of address.
Look at the same media blog, and find the powerpoint on CONSUMERISM. Start
to think about the idea of consumerism and notion of magazines as capitalist
tools, magazine as catalogue, aspirational etc links with fashion industry and
other companies/products. (look at sheets 16-19)
Complete an advertising audit for your case study magazine. What percentage
of the magazine is adverts? Is this surprising? Is this fair? Explain relationship
between magazines and advertising in that magazines couldn’t survive without it
and that if a magazine is full of advertising that means that it is doing well (Read
and discuss Sheet 18).
Identify which products are advertised, the companies selling the products and
the relationship between these and their target audience.
Find the advertiser’s pack for the first case study.
Use research on case study 1 to present findings on the following:
• Target audience, readership figures, psychographic/demographic etc
• Who owns it? What else do they own? Relationship between institution
Also consider the Purposes and Uses of, role of pleasure (i.e. sex sells, glossy,
humour, uses and gratifications model, etc)
TASK 7a: Magazines and Gender
Women’s lifestyle magazines are hugely popular and make up the bulk of the
Look at a range of women’s lifestyle magazines to look at, make notes on:
• The front cover
• Modes of address
• Target audience
• Who owns it
Feedback. Discuss how women are being represented in these magazines. Why
do women read them? For example, problem pages help or hindrance? Use of
models, idea that every image is representation NOT reality i.e. all models etc
air-brushed, digitally altered etc
Consider the assumptions that women’s (and men’s magazines) make about
their readership (Sheet 21).
Read and discuss Five clichés of
woman as portrayed by advertisers Sheet 22-25.
Read and discuss Sheet 26. Discuss how new magazines could challenge
dominant constructions of gender. Do any magazines challenge such
constructions? How? Examples? See sheets 27-50.
Write a detailed analysis of a women’s lifestyle magazine based on class notes
and discussion. Focus on the issue representation and what the debates are
TASK 7b: Magazines and Gender
Look at copies of men’s lifestyle magazines e.g. Men’s Health, Nuts, Zoo etc.
Brainstorm ‘Lads mags’ and what sort of things might be included in them.
Look through magazines like Zoo, FHM, Loaded and Nuts and make notes in
terms of content and how such magazines target young men in terms of:
• The images used
• Editorial approach
• General content
What seems to be ‘the rules’ of lads’ mags? How are men and women
represented? Front covers analysis/ contents/advertising audit.
Compared to. Women’s magazines using checklist on Sheet 50 and last task’s
work on women’s magazines. Consider how you could subvert such
constructions of gender.
Look at football mags these can be alternatives to Lads mags and others such as
special interest i.e. music mags like NME etc.
Discussion re: what are the key issues with such magazines i.e. representation of
women/construction of masculinity/stereotypes etc Are the magazines soft porn?
Consider objections to the magazines i.e. no age limit but top shelf? Act of
buying as part of consumer identity? Read Sheet 50; Men’s magazines: a new
market Discuss key points.
Read ‘The great gender gap’ sheets 51 and 52 and discuss key points.
Read ‘The lads go limp’ sheets 74-75 and discuss key points
TASK 8: Essay
Write an essay on the differences and similarities between men’s magazines and
women’s magazines using one main case study for each.
You must also decide which magazine is going to be your second main case
study magazine. This should be a different type of magazine to the first main
case study but still a lifestyle magazine.
TASK 9: Timed Essay
You are allowed to make notes and use magazines prior to timed essay
How do individual magazines target and keep a particular audience? (from
Summer exam 2007)
TASK 10: Challenging Stereotypes
Read sheets 53-64
Plan a new magazine aimed at young men which is different from the current
ones on the market challenging stereotypes and assumptions about men and
constructing a new male audience. Consider:
• Title: meanings/connotations
• Cover: design/layout/branding
• Editorial approach
• Promotional techniques/advertising
Read sheets 65-67. Discuss
Read sheets 74-80
Read and discuss ‘Lads, mags, nuts and zoo’ and Are magazines for young men
likely to reinforce stereotypical, ‘macho’ and sexist attitudes in their readers?
Look at the ‘Sex sells’ poster (Sheet 73). Analyze images/consider relationship
between sex and advertising/product and audience/lifestyle promoted; role of
pleasure in consumption etc
TASK 12: Case Study 2
Work on your own case study. Same activities as task 3. See sheets 81-83.
TASK 13: Magazine Institutions
Go onto http://deemcguinness.edublogs.org. Password for the blog: bfi and use
the ‘Big Five’ PowerPoint. Consider the importance of media institutions and the
relationship between institution, audience and product. Is this relationship
changing? Consider any current debates/issues.
Research one of ‘the big 6.’ Find the ‘Media Pack’ online
TASK 14: Key terms & Theory
Revise key terms to do with the magazine industry use sheets 87-99 to help
Media theory: there are a number of theories that can be applied to magazines.
See sheet 100 on Roland Barthes as an example. Think of theories such as the
uses and gratifications model and the hypodermic model. How can such models
be applied? How useful are these ideas in 2009? See www.theory.org.uk
Read the following to read and make notes on:
• Images of women in advertising (sheets 101-105)
• How are women and men represented differently in images (sheets
• The knowing construction of identity sheets 117-122)
• Mediation sheets 123-129)
See sheets 130 131.
Apply theories to both main case studies.
Discussion magazines and how they are used for pleasure for example:
• Promoting aspirational lifestyles
• uses and gratifications
• reassuring reader
Find examples from magazines to support all ideas.
Discuss the ways in which magazines are not useful/pleasureable. For example:
• reinforcing stereotypes
• selling us products/advertorials
• too many adverts
• reader’s body image
TASK 15: Mainstream vs. Niche
Use the PowerPoint http://deemcguinness.edublogs.org Password for the blog:
bfi. re: Niche and Mainstream markets.
Think of some examples of Niche market titles and complete some of the
activities on the PowerPoint.
Make sure many social groups are covered e.g. Diva aimed at lesbians, Attitude
aimed at Gay men, titles aimed at black readers etc as well as ‘special interest’
Consider the question: Niche markets never used to have a chance to survive-
why? Why do they have more chance of survival now?
Choose a niche title to do further research on.
TASK 16: Timed Essay
Using no notes answer the following question:
Discuss the following statement “The magazine industry is successful
because it targets it’s readership so narrowly”
TASK 17: The future of the Magazine Industry, impact of Web 2.0
Use PowerPoint on the future of the industry on
http://deemcguinness.edublogs.org Password for the blog: bfi
Discuss key changes/issues/implications. For example, how will we read
magazines in the future? How is the relationship between the media and
audiences changing? For example, shifting from institutions delivering fixed
products to audiences, to audiences creating media texts themselves. Does this
render some theories out of date? Consider ideas of power
TASK 18: Almost done!
Play ‘Who wants to be a magazine insdurty millionaire?’ on
http://deemcguinness.edublogs.org Password for the blog: bfi;
Look through old exam papers, top tips, examiner’s report etc Examples of good
(Sheets 144-150 exemplar essays)
See sheets 151-182.