In this essay I will be looking at the main codes and conventions of television documentaries and explaining the effect they have on the presentation of the subject matter.

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Media Studies Coursework 1                                    Documentaries.

GCSE Media Studies.

Coursework 1.

In this essay I will be looking at the main codes and conventions of television documentaries and explaining the effect they have on the presentation of the subject matter. As part of the essay I will be analysing a documentary, which I am familiar with and I will, to support it, compare the codes and conventions of a TV documentary to those of another genre. I will also discuss genres and generic hybrids. I will give a general overview of how TV documentaries communicate with their audience.

The word “genre” is originally from France and means type or category. All genres are different in their own ways however they all have similar codes and conventions. Genres are helpful to both the viewer and the producer but mainly the producer as it helps them determine what to base the programme on and when to broadcast it depending on the content. Genres are mainly used in films, TV programmes and music. Genres are a recipe the programmes tend to follow depending on the codes and conventions however sometimes programmes love to depart from these features and rules in order to add more flavour and suspense to their production.  Generic hybrids are a combination of two or more genres into one programme. The use of hybrids is increasing as they attract a larger audience much to the producer’s pleasure. The audience enjoy watching hybrids as it adds more twists and turns to the story and makes it more interesting. A producer’s worst nightmare is their audience getting bored and changing the channel but this could quite possibly be the case if the audience don’t find a programme interesting enough. Hybrids are used more and more now and a typical example of one is “Ready, Steady, Cook!” which is a combination of a cookery programme and a game show and therefore, it attracts both audiences by combining two genres.

Codes and conventions are the key features and rules that determine a programmes’ genre, and they play a vital part in all aspects of the programme. The code includes dress; speech or music that makes sense once they are arranged using the correct conventions. All genres have differences, however, certain codes and conventions apply to all genres and therefore some genres appear to be similar in some ways.  Codes and conventions help us find our way around a text and understand it better. When we are watching a programme and we sense similarity we are often pleasured and if we predict what will happen next and we are correct then we are pleasured even more. When the audience can relate to a programme the content becomes more transparent to them and therefore more meaningful.

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        The dictionary definition of a documentary is factual film or TV programme:  a film or TV programme presenting facts and information, especially about a political, historical, or social issue. Documentaries are different to soaps etc. because they reflect real-life events; and are consequently based on different codes and conventions. When we watch a soap the lighting, props, characters and script are all previously planned and are fictional. Although documentaries are previously planned and the scripts are written for the narrator, the characters and storylines are not fictional, they are real. Everything they say and tell us is real, or at least ...

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