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Question 1

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

Hayley McCarthy AS Media Studies City College Norwich

Overall Aesthetic

From glancing at the front cover, I believe it does use the design conventions of a conventional magazine. I have highlighted some elements which create this aesthetic.

Masthead in top left corner

Buzz & Puff

Main image maintains eye contact.

Important Cover Lines in left-hand third Main image medium close up

Main Cover Line larger than other elements on page

Colours compliment each other & are continuous

Barcode, Issue Number, Datestamp and Price

Conventional (based on magazines analysed)


Main Cover Line:

Cover Lines (language):



• Positioned behind model drawing further attention to the artist, demonstrating that the magazine puts the artist first, with a sole focus on music. Whilst being conventional for a magazine to place the artist in front of the masthead, due to the magazine being a new brand, the audience will not have associations with the masthead to recognise it on a newsstand. Despite this, I made deliberate design choices so that the bar of the ’t’ was visible, and the majority of the word ‘magazine’ was too. This allows the reader to read the name of the magazine, which should denote the genre of the magazine. • The original masthead featured a serif font inside a circle. In the preproduction planning, I decided that this did not denote an alternative rock magazine, so I decided to revise the design. By including a guitar within the ‘A’ of Alt this further reiterated the musical genre. The type of guitar also has connotations of a rock genre - as opposed to an acoustic guitar - further cementing the genre. • On a wider level, I have included the masthead in the top left corner. Featuring in the both the left hand and top third, meaning that whichever way the magazine is stacked at a newsagents (either vertical or horizontal) the masthead would be visible, strengthening the brand identity. • In order to establish a contrast between the main cover line and other cover lines, I differed the use of typeface and point size. The brush font lends itself to a serif style, creating a visual contrast between the sans-serif cover lines. Furthermore, the larger size of the font was a clear device to draw attention to the main cover line, denoting what the DPS will consist of. • All of the magazine’s studied featured the main cover line in white. Whilst these choices are down to the house style of each page, my main concern was the readability of the main cover line. As the background was dark, it made sense to put the cover line in white. While this doesn’t contrast the other textual elements, this does create a striking contrast against the main image, especially considering the larger size.

• The main aim of a cover line is to entice the reader into buying the magazine. Conventionally, artist names will appear on the front to appeal to select dedicated fans. Although, as witnessed in Classic Rock, these cover lines can also be descriptive, allowing the reader to gain insight into the article itself; e.g. “Robert Fripp’s War”. As this is the first issue of Alt Magazine, I was keen to include descriptive yet ambiguous cover lines such as “Getting Brave with The 1975”, conforming to conventions of all three magazines analysed. “Getting Brave” could imply many things, intriguing the reader into possible adventures of interest. But to cement this, the band name “The 1975” is clearly highlighted through the enlargement of point size and heavier font weight. I kept this format for all of the cover lines, aiding the overall consistency of the page. • Keen to make the page look full but not cluttered, I intended to include cover lines on both sides of the page. This could be perceived as unconventional, however each of the magazines analysed featured their cover lines in various positions; aligned left, right, and both sides. Going with my original design intentions, I place the majority of the cover lines in the left hand third, which will be visible on a newsstand and is conventional of UK magazines. The right hand side featured just two cover lines, both of which were still feature articles, with the intention of not being as prolific as the ones on the left.


• Cover line font ‘Bebas Neue’ remains continuous, with varying weights drawing attention to necessary areas of the page whilst maintaining a professional aesthetic. Sans-serif font connotes modernity and is conventional with that of Wire and Clash magazine. • Classic Rock uses serif and sans-serif fonts, which compliment each other while drawing attention to select areas of the page. I really wanted to portray a modern aesthetic to the magazine, reflecting it’s newness as a publication. I found the hand-written style font from Classic Rock intriguing, as this was unconventional within the magazines I studied. I came across the brush-style font ‘Streetbrush’ and thought that the harsh angular style fitted well with the no-nonsense character which the main cover line was anchoring, as well as fitting with the rigid sans-serif cover line font.

Main Image:

• A medium close-up shot maintaining a direct gaze creates a conventional main image. The direct gaze acts as a device to connect with the reader, which is literally used within the publication through social networking. The combination of eye contact paired with the slight smile engages with the reader on an emotional level. • The absence of a background mimics the other magazines, adding to the professional aesthetic of the page. The lack of background prevents the page from appearing overcomplicated, hence keeping the focus on the cover star. • Clothing elements such as a bracelet and bowler hat offer personality to the cover star, similarly to Lemmy’s hat in Classic Rock. • Unconventionally, an instrument is featured. I wanted to include the guitar to add continuation with the masthead, which features a guitar. I deliberately placed the cover lines on the right hand side to wrap around the guitar head, creating a clear horizontal line across the page, further integrating the main image with the other textual elements.


• In all of the magazines analysed, each of them had their barcode in a vertical rotation. Whilst I originally tried my barcode vertically, I found it did not fit with the aesthetic of the page. For this reason, I have positioned my barcode horizontally at the bottom of the page. • Conventionally however, I have placed it in the right-hand third with the issue number, datestamp, and price next to it. These elements use the font which I created, adding a personal touch to the cover. • I also created my barcode from scratch using photoshop, further reiterating the ‘handmade’ theme. Considering this, I am pleased with how it resembles a conventional barcode.

Buzz & Puff

• As the majority (2) of the magazines analysed do not feature a buzz and puff, this suggests that the addition of one is unconventional. However, buzz and puffs are considered a design convention, which lead me to include one in my magazine. • Classic Rock features a buzz and puff offering a “free 15 track CD”, as Alt Magazine is a new publication, it would not have the funds to be offering such a gift. Because of this, I’ve advertised a chance to win. Whilst this guarantees one entrant the prize, I believe that the chance alone is something which will entice the reader. Adding this to the sense of achievement the person who wins will receive, I believe that this is an effective way of tempting the reader. • Whilst featuring in the top third, Classic Rock has placed their buzz and puff in the top left-hand third. Whilst this will be seen in newsstands, if I was to position my buzz and puff in the same place, it would greatly obscure the Masthead, which is not ideal for such a new publication. • The original buzz and puff was similar to Classic Rock’s in that it featured a stamp-like quality. However, I found this contrasted the aesthetic of the magazine too much, so decided upon a more modern yet noticeable buzz and puff. During the hot seating feedback one peer commented on how they really liked this change.

Overall Aesthetic

I intended for the contents page to feature elements from all of the magazines analysed, whilst retaining my original design vision.

Editorial Section


Regular Article list

Model wearing different clothing to cover

Images with editorial and feature content

Photographer and Model credits from Cover.

Page number with website URL

Page Numbers relating to each synopsis.

Social Buttons

Conventional (based on magazines analysed)



Regular Article List: • With most magazines, it is conventional to have a feature article list and a regular article list. This differentiates between the content, resulting in a clearer outline of articles. These articles include:
 - Reviews from Alt Mag, including Album and Live, allowing reader to gather opinion on various content without spending money and being disappointed.
 - Reviews from readers, encouraging them to get involved an interact with the magazine, building a strong relationship between the publication and the readership.
 - Upcoming artist, kept a mystery to entice the reader, appeals to the fact that they want to know information before their peers.
 - Alt Charts, fairly self explanatory, they can purchase the songs and increase their music library, as well as discover new artists.
 - Alt Voice, allows them to voice their opinions on the Alternative Rock industry, once again encouraging the readers to get involved through social networks. • As all of the magazines analysed feature varying placement of their article list, I followed Classic Rock’s right-hand placement due to the fact it fitted more easily with the design of the page.

Second Regular Article List:

• For my contents page, I decided to include two more regular sections separate to the regular article list. Whilst this is unconventional, I intended for my magazine to be modern, and these slight changes I believe heighten the aesthetic of the page. • I decided to isolate the competition article after having space free in the design; originally intended for another image. This continues the impact of the buzz and puff, without greatly distracting away from the feature articles. • The list as the top has a heavy focus on band names, which will further entice the reader into purchasing the magazine and reading the various articles. By placing this near the header, it clearly defines a wealth of content which the magazine includes, for a small price.

Feature Article List:

• As the feature article list isn’t technically a list, I deem this section to be quite unconventional. It is formatted within the layout to have one full column, then 3/4 of a column, then 1 1/4 column, shifting focus between the columns and adding to the unconventional nature of the design. Wire magazine has used a similar grid method, although this is more spacious and grid-like than my feature section. • I used lines to differentiate between the content sections, placing the cover star article in a box, with the header text marginally bigger and bolder than the rest of the content sections. • Conventionally, some of the sections feature a related image, helping vary the content sections, whilst breaking up the composition of the page.

Editorial Section: • Whilst considered a design convention, an editorial section does not feature in any of the contents pages analysed. Despite this, I wanted to include this section to strengthen the bond between the magazine and the readership, especially considering the newness of the publication. • Featuring different coloured text to the rest of the section, this subtly attracts attention without overwhelming the composition. • The use of a signature furthers the personalised touch that the magazine has, connoting the care and values which the magazine holds for both the Alternative Rock genre and readership.

Social Buttons: • Oddly enough, none of the publications feature any link to social networks or other multimedia presence. As my primary research showed a majority was active on at least one social networking site, I thought it would be important to include such information on the contents page. • I deliberately placed the social media buttons without direct links due to the younger target audience (16-21 year olds) being accustomed to searching for content/ companies, and rarely following the URL extension. • By placing the web address at the bottom of each page by the numbers, this consistently alerts the reader to the URL, encouraging them to visit the website and generate traffic for the magazine.


• Despite Clash magazine not featuring any images, both Classic Rock and Wire magazine feature images. In order to meet the design brief, I needed to include at least four images across the whole publication, and I have included 4 images for the contents page alone. • The cover star is featured next to the editorial section, connoting that the editorial section mentions or is closely linked to the cover star. Wearing different clothes than the front cover, this suggests a separate photo shoot. The fact that the artist is blurred and the camera is in focus suggests another layer to the article, fitting in with the mention of exclusive online content in the DPS. • Other images used did not require a photo shoot as they simply illustrate the various articles. I used a CD to illustrate ‘album success’ as it often denotes an album or single. The crowd image represents a ‘tour’ and the waffles represent an informal ‘lunch meeting’ with a band. The fact that there are two waffles in the picture connote a meeting, as well as looking aesthetically pleasing.

Overall Aesthetic

Standfirst Pull Quote

I wanted the DPS to be as conventional as possible, with an equal focus on text and image. I was also keen to include elements from the cover and contents (such as font) to aid the continuity of the house style.

Header using brush style font similar to front cover

Subheading Article credit

Page numbers and website URL

Endorsement of product from Artist

Interactive QR Code Photographer and model credit End symbol taken from masthead

Model wearing different clothes to cover and contents page

Gradient taken from Cover

Conventional (based on magazines analysed)



Regular Article List:

• I originally used a brush type font for the main cover line to convey a sense of grittiness, relating directly to the cover artist. I wanted to continue this into the DPS to create a stronger house style. Classic Rock have also used a brush type header, which strengthens the conventional nature of my DPS. • It is also positioned fairly high on the page, drawing more attention to the header, of which is a play on the artist’s name (Aggie Champion) relating directly to the struggle which is conveyed in the article.

Subheading Placement:

Drop Cap:

• My original intention for these lines of text was for them to be part of a standfirst, however I had already integrated this feature in the body text, resulting in it becoming more of a subheading. • Conventionally placed above the header as in Classic Rock and Clash, this draws attention to the text, offering an insight into both the tone and content of the article. Bolded words within the text heighten this emphasis, drawing the reader in.

• Merely a decorative statement, here I have used a pull quote to denote the start of the standfirst. Due to the article being in an unconventional question and answer style, it would have been inappropriate to use a drop cap at the start of a question. • I decided to have my drop cap smaller than Clash and Classic Rock in order to fit with the formatting of the body text. In the same colour as the content headers on the contents page, the drop cap is large enough to draw attention without cluttering the page. • Whilst drop caps are considered more traditional, I have marked the end of the article, so I thought it would be just to balance the article. Even so, I do not believe that the inclusion of the drop cap damages the modern aesthetic of the magazine, especially considering that it is in sans-serif font.

Article Format:

• Due to the younger 16-21 year old target audience, I was certain from the start that the magazine needed to be for entertainment purposes, rather than resembling a content-heavy textbook. By following a simple question and answer style, this stays true to the manuscript of the conversation, as well as highlighting content in the article which could be understood on it’s own. Often readers skim over the article, so should they notice content which interests them or otherwise appeals to them, they will be able to read this particular paragraph and still have a fair idea of the personality of the star. • Personality is something I wanted to retain in the article. I constructed the artist to be a bit of a diva, so I left in phrases such as ‘pure hate’ and ‘dig yourself a hole’ which are unique dialect to the artist. In order to further demonstrate this, I filled in certain sections where words were dropped such as ‘I’m’ in a typical article style.

Pull Quote:

• Pull quotes are considered a design convention in double page spreads, however the only magazine to include them out of those analysed is Classic Rock, hence making this an unconventional feature. • I’ve included two pull quotes in the DPS, they take up a column width each, unlike Classic Rock’s which covers across two of the three. However, the increased font height, differing typeface (same as the subheading) and slight indentation effectively draw attention to these elements. I have used the same teal featured in both the cover page and contents page to strengthen the house style. • The quotes are also quite hard-hitting, both being emotive and mimicking the constructed personality of the artist. Classic Rock used profanities on the front cover to reinforce a point and set the tone for the article, whereby the use of the word “sod” in my article is mildly vulgar but not offensive. The use of the word “their” is quite unassuming, and encourages the reader to read the article to discover who this is referring to.


• In order to remain conventional with the other magazines analysed, I needed the image on my magazine to convey the artist’s personality. At my cover photo shoot I tried some shots where I directed the model to ‘snarl’ and look aggressive. After multiple attempts, I found this, almost stroppy looking pose the most suitable for the DPS. The article focuses on the diva-side to the star, so this pose suited perfectly. • I decided to stick with the medium close up framing in order to convey enough emotion whilst including the folded arms, which in themselves add to the connotations of this pose. • Unconventionally however, I decided to put the image in monochrome. This was to continue the conventions of the contents page, strengthening the house style once more. This also removes any extraneous detail that the colour may bring, possessing a connotation of the artist considering things to be “either black or white” connoting that she is upfront and ‘bares all’ in this article. • I subtly changed the model’s outfit in this photo shoot too. Keeping the choker, this time I asked the model to wear clothes which she feels comfortable. This was to make the model more comfortable, resulting in more genuine expressions. Furthermore, she chose a black t-shirt similar to that used on the front cover, aiding the consistency. However, the hat has been deliberately removed to connote once again that she is ‘baring all’. Another connotation of this is that she is actually polite, as the removal of the hat is done out of consideration. This mimics the eventual softening of her character as the article progresses.

QR Code:

• Whilst none of the other magazines analysed feature a QR Code, I was keen to include one in order to heighten the interactive content, further engaging with the readership. This also connects with the behind the scenes style image on the contents page.

QR Code:

• I was keen to include an end symbol in the article to further tie the integration of the guitar in the ‘A’ of the masthead to the inside of the magazine. I believe this subtle yet effective detail shows the level of care I/ the publication holds for the content of the magazine.

Evaluation Question 1