Media Studies - Revised GCSE points to US vote
Was the US presidential election decided by Sarah Palin's inability to explain the Bush doctrine? Or by her Pounds 150,000 wardrobe? And did the fact that Barack Obama is black matter more or less than the fact that John McCain is a pensioner?
From next September, GCSE media studies pupils sitting the revised exam, run by the OCR board, will discuss whether the deciding factors in the election were political issues, such as the war in Iraq or the collapse of the economy, or more superficial concerns.
The new course will also encourage pupils to examine the way the media responds to gender, race and age. The media's handling of these issues was one of the defining characteristics of the US election.
A Google internet search for "Sarah Palin fashion" finds more than six million articles and webpages, but the words "Sarah Palin foreign policy" references less than three million. These include satirical references to her ability to see Russia from her bedroom window.
By contrast, similar searches for Joe Biden, her Democrat counterpart, find almost twice as many references to foreign policy as fashion.
Clara Kenyon, qualifications director at OCR, said: "Major world events are shaped and history is influenced by the media. We've seen the US election play out a number of themes in its portrayal of presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Media studies has never been more relevant."