People often ask how much theory is expected in the exam; do students need to quote theories and the names of critics/theorists? The answer is yes, you are expected to know some RELEVANT theory and to be able to apply it to examples, particularly to access the higher marks. You are also expected to be able to accurately cite the names of critics/researchers and theorists and to set out their position- but you certainly don't have to agree with them! In fact, there are more marks for people who can argue effectively with someone else's ideas.
So whose work is it useful to know about?
Media Studies 2.0
In 2007, Gauntlett published online the article Media Studies 2.0, arguing that we need to recognise the changing media landscape in which the categories of 'audiences' and 'producers' blur together. He argues that there is a shift from a 'sit-back-and-be-told culture' to a 'making-and-doing culture'. His video is essential viewing!
Jenkins has written about fan cultures for many years and the ways in which fans ‘re-write’ media texts for their own purposes. In his recent book ‘Convergence culture’ he looks at how the convergence of different media forms should be understood less in terms of technology and more in terms of what people are doing with them.
Wesch is assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. Wesch is interested in ‘digital ethnography’, where he studies the effect of new media on human interaction. He created a short video, "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us." and put it on youtube in early 2007. His later videos, made collaboratively with his students are all really interesting reflections on how people use the web.
Anderson came up with the concept of ‘The Long Tail’ an idea about retailing, describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities – usually in addition to selling fewer popular items in large quantities. Amazon.com is a good example.
“The distribution and inventory costs of businesses successfully applying this strategy allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items. The total sales of this large number of "non-hit items" is called the Long Tail” (Wikipedia).
This concept might also be seen to apply in social networks (e.g., crowdsourcing, peer-to-peer), and viral marketing . Overall, it is dependent on the online age and could not have easily existed in earlier society.
Don's influential books 'Wikinomics' and 'Grown up digital' look at how the business model of the web and the generation that has grown up with the web are changing the economy.
Any study of Media regulation or fans ought to take account of the work of Martin Barker, currently at Aberystwyth University. He has written and researched extensively on comics, films and their audiences, as well as moral panics about the media, such as the Video nasties 'scare' of the mid 1980s and the Childs play 3 panic of the mid 1990s.