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At last an apt reply

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? THE MEDIA. By Belinda Hollyer. . Pounds 3.99.

If only for the fact that it provides a ready and amusing answer to what has become a perennial question - "So what's media studies about, then?" - teachers of the subject should give a warm welcome to Belinda Hollyer's What's the Big Idea? The Media.

Rather like a junior version of any of the successful For Beginners series that cover such issues as fascism and capitalism or outline the works of, say, Darwin and Marx, Hollyer's book offers an attractive and informative mix of cartoons and text on a number of pivotal topics.

Prominent among these are the right to privacy (with the Princess of Wales's death offered as the main debating point), the nature and practice of censorship, the power of media conglomerates, plus a short but illuminating look at stereotypes. Only a few illustration-packed pages on each, true, but still enough to whet the reader's appetite for something more substantial.

Simple without being simplistic, this is an ideal introduction to the more theoretical parts of most media studies courses in secondary and further education.

So when next someone pops the question, hand over the Hollyer: in the short and long term, they'll thank you for it.

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