How to ace the media analysis

I’ve got a confession to make. VCE English Media analyses are not as complicated as you think! They are tricky to get the hang of at the start because there are so many structural aspects to remember on top of actually analysing, understanding and annotating the article. However, if you stick to the same pattern each time, the way I did, you will pick up the technique quite quickly and each analysis will become like a formula in which you just have to sub in different quotes and arguments.

STEP 1: Introduction

I religiously followed an eight point checklist:

State the issue in general without mentioning the article you’re analysing
Article type and title
Intended audience
For example; In Victoria, the government has passed laws and is slowly tightening restrictions on smoking…etc. [GENERAL ISSUE]….Maintaining an informed and reasoned tone, [TONE] Mark King [AUTHOR] contends in his opinion piece, [TYPE OF ARTICLE] ‘Banning Smoking is Undemocratic’,[TITLE OF PIECE] that, “[CONTENTION]……” King intends to persuade [INTENDED AUDIENCE]……that “…….”

Obviously, it is acceptable to leave out the date and name of newspaper if it is not given to you – as I have shown above.

STEP 2: Visuals

The next step is to identify and analyse the heading, sub-title, header, footer and picture/graphic/cartoon/etc. All of these visual components of the piece are usually connected in some way so make the link.

Moreover, you should identify the technique used in the heading or picture, whilst explaining the point being made but most importantly discuss what it does to the reader and how it persuades them. This is where you have the opportunity to stand out from every other student and grab those extra marks!

When you are analysing the visual – this includes structural and symbolic elements such as bold font, logos, colour, dollar signs, written layout, etc. – there is a seven point checklist to tick off:

Briefly discuss the background information of the debate’s context
Object/Subject - identify and describe the object, subject, their relative sizes and the reason for this
Expressions – look at the object’s facial expressions and body language
Surroundings – take notice of the positioning of things in the foreground, background, periphery/boundary, etc.
Dialogue – the size, font, significant contrasts and impact of dialogue or lettering should be noted. Also, mention the tone or type of humour being used in the caption.
Colour – the contrast in colour, the significance and meaning of this (shadows, black/white emphasis&hellipWink
Response – the intended effect on readers. How are they meant to respond? This should only be approximately one sentence long.

Body: It’s a good idea to group techniques when you are annotating so that you don’t end up with a paragraph on each technique, but rather a paragraph with about 3 similar techniques grouped together.

With each persuasive technique mentioned, you must repeat the steps used in the visual when analysing the heading or picture. Three easy steps:

Intended effect
How does it persuade?

It’s a big misconception that the conclusion must be long and contain all of the techniques previously analysed. THIS IS WRONG AND A WASTE OF YOUR TIME! Instead, all you need to do is identify the author’s expected response from readers.

For example; As a result of the author’s___ and___tone, they expect a___response/reaction from (intended audience) which in turn, will encourage them to (something which supports the author’s argument).


A few tips on little things that lots of students often forget, but if you do remember them, will have a HUGE impact on your overall mark.

note specific groups being targeted
locate key ideas/arguments and THEN the strategies (persuasive techniques) employed to communicate them. Not the other way around!
identify the tone at key moments
there is usually a shift in tone at least once throughout the piece, MENTION IT!

Lauren completed her VCE in 2008. She is deferring from Physiotherapy at La Trobe University, Bundoora for the year in order to work for 6 months before travelling overseas.

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