Young people need a voice in media, says survey

The news media frequently portrays young people in a poor light and fails to speak to them when reporting on them, according to a survey by Young People Now magazine.

Around 78 per cent of national media coverage about young people is negative, the research carried out by TNS Media Intelligence shows, and nine out of 10 stories about children carry interviews with experts.

The survey monitored all daily and Sunday nationals, all the major news broadcasters and most of the smaller ones for one week in May and showed that quotes from young people appeared in only 11 per cent of stories related to them.

The views of children most frequently appeared after comments from adults, it was found.

Broadcast media was particularly negative, showing young people in an unfavourable light in 87 per cent of coverage.

Nicky Cox, editor of First News, a weekly national for young people, said societal training, deadlines and the difficulty in getting permission to speak to young people may keep journalists away from reporting the views of children.

“If you read the national press, you would think that they’re all illiterate, obese hoodies robbing old ladies, and that’s such a minority,” he said.

Five News acting deputy editor James Birtles said: “I cannot speak for other stations, but we actively go out of our way to include more young people on our news programmes, which sometimes might even mean asking them to do reports on our behalf.”

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