Campaign group urges editors to ban disparaging age references from news reports

The Editors’ Code of Practice should be changed to ban journalists from making pejorative references to people’s age, according to a media training agency which claims to have the support of 105 youth organisations.

The Youth Media Agency says groups including the National Union of Students and UNICEF support its call for the inclusion of an age stipulation in clause 12.i of the Editors’ Code. In a letter to the committee responsible for the Code – which is chaired by Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre (pictured above) – they argued not enough is being done to ensure children are fairly represented in print.

The move comes in response to an ongoing consultation being undertaken by the Editors’ Code Committee following the Leveson Inquiry. Plans to improve the Code’s public interest definition and to appoint lay members to the committee have already been announced.

Clause 12.i of the Code currently says the press must not publish material which makes pejorative or prejudicial reference to “an individual's race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability".

But the campaign’s supporters say age must be included in order to bring the code in line with prevailing norms which ensure equality across society.

The group said in a statement: “Children deserve the right to fair representation and accessible redress; including age as a classification will make a tangible contribution towards this.”

They also said the change would reflect article seven of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights – which states "all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law" – as well as the Ofcom code and individual UK newspapers’ guidelines on age.

Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, said she fully supported the campaign: “It is wholly wrong that children and young people can still be negatively stereotyped in the media in a way that simply would not happen to other age groups.”

The Editors’ Code Committee is expected to respond to submissions later this month, after the public consultation period ends on 17 February. 

Those wishing to respond to the Editors' Code Committee consultation should write to committee secretary Ian Beales at ianbeales@mac.com.

 

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