"Magazine Production" is a learning module found within the Media Awareness Network website. It discusses and asks students to investigate how magazines target specific target markets throughout its publications. More specifically, students role play the various jobs and responsibilities at a magazine. Students are instructed to create, write, lay out, and design a complete magazine including articles and advertisements. The website contains a downloadable lesson plan, as well as three student handouts that focus on a senior, adolescent and parent focused magazine project.
Type of Material:
Magazine Production is a lesson plan that asks students to explore magazine production aimed at three specific target markets (senior, adolescent, and parents). In particular, it asks students to bring magazines to class to review. Some of the critical questions that they need to answer include: who is the target audience, number of ad and content pages, the magazines tone, identify the various roles in a magazine, etc. Next, the class is to be divided up into three magazines. Students are then supposed to create a magazine for seniors, adolescents, or parents. Development of the magazine includes writing articles, developing a layout/cover page, and role playing (writers, editors, etc.).
This material can be expanded to including how to price the advertisements and the magazine itself. Another interesting extension would be the conflict between the publisher and editor,
in other words, the content that readers are paying for and the advertising that companies pay for. Advertisers would love for the magazine to take their money for an ad, but also furnish an article on the company. The more ads contained within the magazine the more revenue generated; however, this will eventually lead to fewer readers and, probably, fewer advertisers, since they would prefer to be the magazines only paid sponsor.
The lesson plan, could be integrated into a class discussion on target markets and/or media by having the students discuss the trend toward more specialized mediums. Then, an instructor can follow-up by having students create a list of article ideas and appropriate brands that match specific groups.
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Identify Major Learning Goals:
Students will have a better understanding of how each component in a magazine needs to relate to its target market. This includes not only advertising, but also the content of the magazine as well.
Target Student Population:
This module is targeted primarily for 11 and 12th graders, however, although with slight modification portions of this lesson may be relevant for undergraduates. Beginning advertising and marketing communications students may benefit from portions of this lesson.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Evaluation and Observation
The lesson plan is clearly articulated. Learning outcomes and instructions are easy to follow. The focus on specific target markets with an article idea is also good. Students would be required to work in teams.
Writing articles and role playing the various roles held within a magazine go beyond the curriculum of many business and marketing classes. There may not be enough time during a typical undergraduate semester as this is such a comprehensive project that requires adequate guidance from the instructor.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The topic of specialized magazines and what goes into reaching a target market are important discussions.
As written, the lesson plan may be too elementary for many college classes. However, an instructor can supplement the lesson plan or simply have a discussion of the issues it raises.
A danger in this module is that students may merely mimick the design and layout of a current magazine, without really contemplating it themselves. Even this, though, would be educational, since students are forced to identify important components of a magazine.
Although grading this exercise is not overly complicated, imparting corrections could be very time consuming and daunting for the instructor. Also, the style of writing for a magazine is markedly different than business writing.
Students should be required to complete, for example, a Creative Brief similar to that employed in advertising agencies before undertaking the project. This allows students to have a more complete understanding of the target market.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Simple, easy to understand for both students and faculty. Appropriate guidance would need to be provided by the instructor throughout the duration of the project.
The time involved in doing this project correctoy may be enormous. The reward for the exercise must be tempered by the time involved. A small version of the magazine should suffice, unless the groups are very large. Unless layout and design is an important goal, creating an article and advertisement for the target market offers similar benefits.