Picking the right channels;Secondary;Books

1st October 1999 at 01:00
ADVANCED LEVEL MEDIA. By Angela Bell, Mark Joyce and Danny Rivers. Hodder amp; Staughton. pound;14.99. MEDIA STUDIES FOR GCSE. By Peter Wall and Paul Walker. Collins pound;12.99. MEDIA STUDIES FOR GCSE. Teaching Pack. By Peter Wall. Collins pound;39.99.

Both in form and content, Advanced Level Media reflects the main problem faced by media studies teachers - how to achieve suitable depth in a subject that demands a wide range of skills. Compromise is the sensible answer and, just as teachers concentrate their energies more usefully in some areas than others, so do the authors of this textbook.

In five sections dealing with most of the main syllabus areas, the authors offer information and examples that will serve students well. Especially good are the sensible and well-informed sections on production, the music industry and advertising. The part dealing with British broadcasting is as pleasing for its economy as for its judicious content. A selective look at the British cinema from the 1940s to the 1960s provides a sound foundation for further study, as does an even more potted account of African cinema.

Add to these an extensive glossary, suggestions for further work plus several up-to-date bibliographies, and the result is a textbook to rival the current market leader, Branston and Stafford's The Media Student's Book. Even so, there is the occasional hiccup - or, more accurately, some great burps. Too many sentences read as though they were written and edited at a gallop. There is also a long and quite impenetrable quote on Hollywood, lifted from Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson's The Classical Hollywood Cinema.

Readers will have no such problems with Peter Wall and Paul Walker's Media Studies for GCSE and Peter Wall's companion teaching pack. While the book is packed with information and useful activities, the equally well-organised teaching pack offers an abundance of attractive tasks. A syllabus coverage chart in the pack makes both texts all the more helpful. These texts are of a quality that teachers simply cannot afford to ignore.

Laurence Alster

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