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Media Coursework Report Essay

For my AS Media coursework, I chose to use fashion as the genre of my magazine. To help with my pre-production, I had to perform my own qualitative and quantitative research into fashion magazines and find out what my target audience of 15-19 year old girls would want from it. I went on to create the preliminary products which included the front cover and contents page, and from these the main products which were the alternative front cover and double page spread. These were all produced using Photoshop.

I began by creating a questionnaire, as this is an effective way of finding out what my target audience will be looking for in a fashion magazine. I included 8 questions which asked some general questions into what the participant is interested in, and some into what they would like to see in a fashion magazine, to help me create my front cover and contents page. I gave 20 questionnaires out to other students aged 16-19 as this fits my target audience.

By analysing the results of the questionnaire, I found out a range of information to help my design my front cover. The participants chose £2.50 as the appropriate price and for the magazine to be produced monthly, which I will apply when creating the front cover. 80% of participants said they would be more likely to pick up the magazine if there was a celebrity on the cover. Therefore, I will ask a friend to pose as a celebrity to make it more appealing to my target audience. 50% of participants wanted to see interviews in the magazine and 30% wanted genre-specific features (in this case, it will be fashion, clothes etc.) which I will make sure to include in the contents page.

I formed a focus group with other AS Media students in my class. They were all females, ranged from the ages 16-17, and had an interest in fashion, making them representative of my target audience. I asked them if I should put just one image on the front cover, or add smaller ones around the page to show what’s included inside. The feedback I received was very helpful, and led me to use just the one main photo for my preliminary front cover and my main front cover, to keep the brand consistent. This keeps it looking professional and stops the page from looking overcrowded and trashy.

By textually analysing fashion magazines currently on the market, I discovered a recurring theme among them. The bigger magazines (Vogue, Elle) have been around for much longer, and their cover stars overlap the masthead. However, when analysing Look, I noticed that the masthead overlapped the cover star, suggesting that this magazine is new and lesser known. From this, I decided to have the whole masthead of my magazine visible by audiences for my preliminary front cover as it is new and allows audiences to recognise the brand in future. I then chose to overlap part of the masthead on my main front cover with the cover star, as it is a later issue and audiences should then be able to recognise it.

The content analysis allowed me to see what’s included in fashion magazines. This helped when compiling the contents page. Obviously the main part of a fashion magazine is the fashion itself. However, it also includes items related to hair and beauty, interviews, articles, advice and special features. I made sure to include all of these when designing my contents page, but I chose to keep the main focus on fashion.

I decided to target my magazine towards teenage girls aged between 15 and 19. I thought this was a good range, as girls in their teens will have a more developed sense of style. From my institutional research, I discovered that many fashion magazines were targeted towards women in their 20s and 30s, and decided to aim mine at a teenage audience. Audiences for fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle were predominantly female; therefore it was important to include items in the contents and on the cover that would attract a female audience. I also tried to use feminine colours where appropriate in the magazine to indicate the target audience. I also made sure my focus group was a good representation of my target audience, thus making sure they had a clear interest in fashion and fit the age category, which they did.

I created my preliminary and main products using Adobe Photoshop which had all the necessary tools I needed to create a realistic and professional magazine. By comparing my magazine in relation to Vogue, I am able to see the strengths and weaknesses of my production. I began by selecting the images I would use for each page. I used a Fujifilm Finepix S2950 to capture the photos. The models used direct mode of address as this is the most effective way of attracting the audience. I used a hairdryer to create the effect of wind blowing the model’s hair. I chose to use an image with a light background, with a model wearing spring clothing.

I think this helped to make the cover look more professional as Vogue often incorporates the colours of the magazine to fit the season. I increased the contrast of the image to make it look brighter and more appealing. I then went on to create puffs around the image, and used only ‘Century Gothic’ font to keep it simple and sophisticated. I used a dark blue for the text as it contrasted well with the pink clothing that the model wore. I made sure to include small details as well, including the bar code, price and date to make the product more realistic. I was very pleased with the outcome of my preliminary front cover as it looked professional in relation to magazines on the market today, and had a similar style to that of Vogue magazine.

My next task was the contents page, and from the research I did I was able to see what needed to be included. I wanted to keep it consistent, and so I used the same masthead from the front cover and used it at the top of the contents page. This was used in InStyle’s contents page. I also used the same colour scheme as the front cover, to show that the two are related. I kept the text in columns and split the content into sections, which is what I noticed InStyle and Vogue did when I researched them.

I also noticed in the Vogue contents page that there was some information about the front cover image, so I decided to include that in my own, with information on where to buy the clothes. I was quite pleased with the result of my contents page, as I spent a lot of time on it. However, I felt that there was too much white space that could have been filled in. It may have been a good idea to add in some borders to give the page some depth.

For the alternative cover, I made sure I kept the same font style and size for my masthead. This is because it is important to keep the brand recognisable. I asked my focus group if this was a good idea and they agreed, saying it would keep it consistent and professional. All magazines do this, but fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle often change the colour every month to fit with the theme. I have decided to do the same in my own production, by changing the colour of the masthead and the puffs to a maroon colour, to tie in with the month and season. It also contrasted well with the cover model’s blue dress. Like Vogue, I made sure I kept three puffs around the edges of the main image, to stop them from overlapping. I am really pleased with the outcome of this as I think it could pass as a real magazine.

I then went on to create the double page spread in A3 size, and selected my image to cover the whole background. This meant there was no white space left around the edges, but there was still space to put some text. I wanted the image to take up dominant space on the page to catch the reader’s eye, which is what I noticed was used in Vogue’s double page spread.

I brightened the image and removed some blemishes on the model to try and reach a flawless image, as perfection is one of the main selling points for a fashion magazine. I set the text out in two columns, as this is the layout that most magazines use, including Vogue. I used ‘Rage Italic’ for the headline, which is what I used for the headline on the cover, to keep a consistent house style. I also added page numbers to the bottom corners, as these small details help to build up a realistic product.

I feel that my magazine is very similar to a professional product and would stand out in the market place. It follows the codes and conventions of a typical fashion magazine, and is aesthetically pleasing for the target audience. If I were to change anything, I would make the front cover masthead slightly larger, to make it more eye-catching.

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