On 3rd November, IARS’ young people met with senior representatives from the national media as part of the 99% campaign run by the London Serious Youth Violence Board. Editors from the Metro and the Evening Standard, a senior reporter from the Sun, a producer for BBC television and a representative from London Councils all participated in a lively and informative discussion with thirteen young people from IARS.
The event, organised by the London Serious Youth Violence Board (LSYVB), was chaired by a member of the IARS’ Youth Advisory Board ensuring that it remained a genuinely youth-led discussion. The agenda enabled young people to discuss their concerns regarding the representation of young people by the media. These concerns reflected findings from research commissioned by the LSYVB at the beginning of the year. These findings indicated that 75% of Londoners believed the media portrays teenagers negatively, and less than a fifth thought their portrayal was balanced.
Young people engaged in a constructive discussion with the panel of journalists to explore the media’s perception of the way in which young people are represented by the media. Whilst, the majority of the panel felt their representation of young people was a fair reflection of reality they were interested to listen to young people’s concerns and took on board their recommendations.
Young participants put forward their suggestions for changes they were hopeful to see in the media. This included the involvement of young people in editorial processes with regard to stories relating to young people, including more positive stories about young people and greater use of the 99% campaign logo particularly where there are negative stories in circulation regarding young people.
Whilst consensus could not be reached by the panel as to how any such measures could be implemented, or indeed whether such measures are necessary at all they, encouraged young people to continue reading and responding to the stories they see in the media.
Representatives from the Metro and the Sun urged young people to capitalise on their knowledge and use of new media to get their stories heard by the public. Whilst representatives from the BBC and London Councils were keen to take on young people’s recommendations regarding the use of more positive stories involving young people and greater promotion and involvement of young people in the 99% campaign. This is an initiative of the London Serious Youth Violence Board and rose directly from the work young people did for the Young Londoners Manifesto
Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS Director said: "We are very pleased IARS was asked to organise this youth led discussion. The event provided a unique opportunity for young people to engage with the media, enabling them to improve their understanding of how the media works. Furthermore, it provided an important space for key representatives from the media to listen, respond and take on board the concerns of their younger audiences".
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