Introducing Media Practice started life back in 2012 just after I had finished my previous book The Holiday and British Film (2012). This is the first text book that myself and my co-author Georgia Stone have written, so along the way we have learned quite a lot about the process of writing a textbook and how this differs to writing a book as a result of academic research (such as The Holiday and British Film). Two of the main priorities were to make it user-friendly and to ensure that the exercises included in the book are something that the reader will be inspired to do.
The finished result is a study guide that should appeal to lecturers as well as students to help explain the connection between media practice and media theory. There are twelve chapters with themes such as audience research, scripting, mise-en-scene, editing, and project evaluation.
The book is aimed at media students who are on courses that have a mix of theory and practice and helps to make links between these two approaches. By reading this book and carrying out some of the recommended exercises, students will find that an understanding of the purpose of their practical work can be improved by referring to theory, and conversely, an understanding of critical analysis can be enhanced, by putting it into practice. An understanding of cultural contexts, audiences, meanings and effects will produce graduates who are more desirable to future employers, over prospective employees who only have technical skills.
The introduction to the book explains this concept. In it we quote Professor Guy Starkey who says that ‘in the analysis of media texts, reception alone can be an insufficient approach’, and that ‘active learning’ can be ‘achieved by encoding as well as decoding’ (Starkey, 2000). In other words, producing media texts can enable students to understand how meaning is constructed at the production stage of the communication process, as well as at the reception stage.
Our book includes some elements of instruction – it would not be a textbook if instructions were not included – but Georgia and I are primarily interested in getting students to think about the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how to’ aspects of their projects. For example, we want them to ask themselves why a character should wear a particular costume, what the effect is of a particular setting on the rest of the story, and what significance age and gender has when used in a voiceover.
For students who have previously been resistant to theory, we hope that by applying it to their practical work, they will experience a series of ‘eureka’ moments, and identify the connections between practice and theory on their courses! This will help them to enjoy developing skills and confidence in media analysis and ultimately make them a more successful media student… and graduate.
You can find more details about the book here:
Starkey, Guy, 2000, ‘Taking on the Tabloids: A Rationale for the Teaching of Media Practice’, paper given at the AMPE conference, Bournemouth, September.
‘An indispensable resource for students and lecturers alike. This book helps readers link their media practice degrees to careers in the industry while also underlining the importance of critical thinking and theoretical foundations.’
Michael Wayne, Brunel University London
‘A much needed and valuable book, full of excellent advice and guidance. It will become an essential text for both students and instructors in media studies.’
James Newton, Canterbury Christ Church University