Youth Advisory Board: why media portrayals of young people need to change
Last week vInspired was one of 60 charities that supported the Youth Media Agency’s submission to the Leveson Inquiry, calling for more balanced reporting of children and young people as part of their #presschange4youth campaign.
And it’s about time. All other forms of discrimination are highlighted and stopped, so why not discrimination against young people?
The Youth Media Agency has called for welcome changes such as age being included as a classification of discrimination into the Editors Code and that ‘journalists should exercise a duty of care and avoid negative generalisations about children and young people’.
The submission also points to a range of evidence that confirms young people are too often portrayed in a negative way. For instance, a 2009 survey by Children and Young People Now that found that 76% of press coverage about young people is negative; and a Youth Media Agency Pilot Survey, November 2011, finding that 79% of children and young people feel that adults see them in a negative light.
With newspaper headlines such as, Riots were like ‘a rave’ and a chance for young people to get ‘free stuff, is it any wonder that so many young people feel this way? This constant negative media portrayal has deep and lasting effects.
Last week, vInspired decided to try and get its own sense of young people’s current opinions of their portrayal in the media. They went out and about and recorded the views of young people and asked people on Facebook to finish the sentence: “The media portrays young people as…”. You might have already guessed what kind of responses they received…
This focus on the negative things a minority of young people do overshadows the great things that plenty of others contribute. Take a look through some of the inspirational work of our vInspired National awards finalists as evidence of the amazing contribution that young people are making to society. But a 2008 vInspired Survey found that 39% of adults are unaware of the good things young people do.
Hopefully the Youth Media Agency’s recommendations will be taken into consideration and spell the start of a fairer portrayal of young people. Because one thing is for sure: young peoples’ current treatment is unfair and needs to change, which is why I, like many others, am adding my voice of support.