Young People Have Been Pretty Much Ignored By The Media During COVID

When the Gen Z, jobs, and the economy were discussed, the coverage was negative 71 per cent of the time.

young people in media

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A new report shows young people aren’t being heard in the media — appearing in only 3.3 percent of articles between February and the end of July, which covers most of this year’s global pandemic.

Articles about young people tended to rely on negative stereotypes and tropes — without actually featuring a young person to back up their claims — the Foundation for Young Australians’ report said.

It showed 59 percent of these stories had no young voices in them.

School Strike for Climate organiser Imogen Kuah, 18, said the failure to amplify young voices amounted to ignorance, wilful or otherwise.

“I see it as two different kinds of ignorance,” she told Junkee. “Maybe sometimes they just don’t know and don’t think of it. Then there’s guilty ignorance when they know they can reach out to young people but then decide they just don’t care. It depends on the media outlet, I guess.”

The Herald Sun mentioned young people the most, but didn’t give them a voice 68 per cent of the time. The ABC did the best, quoting them when discussed 63 percent of the time.

Ms Kuah was disappointed that young people weren’t being spoken to or depicted neutrally or favourably by media reports during the coronavirus crisis, despite being among the hardest hit by it.

“What a lot of people forget is there are a lot of young people who have recently graduated and are trying to find their place in the world,” she said. “There are going to be so many people looking for a job.”

Stereotyping of young people in the media. Image: The Foundation for Young Australians

Gen Z, Ms Kuah’s generation, were negatively depicted a whopping 71 percent of the time when discussed with economic issues.

And now things were becoming more normal, she felt they were now forgotten entirely.

“That means there are less people talking about the effects of the coronavirus and those talking about it are the ones who aren’t affected,” Ms Kuah said. “All the people who have come out unscathed are seeing it as an inconvenience but for some of us it’s created a real concern for our futures.”

The report included several recommendations, including quoting more young people and hiring younger reporters.

FYA Youth Media Centre lead Isabelle Tolhurst said snubbing young Australians was eroding their trust.

“Giving young people voice in the media gives them agency. It shows they are a diverse group of people across Australia and supports a genuine contest of ideas about the issues affecting them,” she said. “Including young people in news-making and storytelling supports the media in its pursuit to keep our decision-makers accountable and our systems fair.

“This cannot truly happen if young people aren’t a part of the conversation.”

For more information, read the FYA’s full report, Missing: Young People In Australian News Media.

Feature image is courtesy of the Foundation for Young Australians.