By Robert Mooney
RICHMOND, North Yorkshire, U.K. – For many years, the media has portrayed young people as anti-social, criminal and just generally badly behaved.
In the last year or so, however, there has been a bigger effort to balance coverage out. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, sometimes the media like bad news because it sells more. Not because they like putting people down, but it all comes down to money in the end. There are an increasing number of online journalism websites that give young people a voice and a positive one, too.
In my case, this has been a real outlet to get my views and opinions out there. Youth Journalism International, along with Shout Out UK and Backbench UK, have all helped me learn new skills in journalism and write about what I want at the same time.
This begs the question, “Why on earth has mainstream media not caught up?”
Newspapers such as the Guardian have made a clear effort to balance the good with the bad, concerning news on youth issues, and I think that this is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
As much as the press may be wrong half the time, the other half, the chances are, they are right in some way.
If young people want to be in the news for positive reasons, youth unemployment needs to come down and some young people need to get off their backsides and be pro-active. Whether that be volunteering, getting more qualifications or something else, it will all lead to a more positive view of young people in the media.
But there are a lot of youth who do that already.
So perhaps the problem lies somewhere else. In 2009, even the UN started to express concerns about the representation of young people in the press.
Since then, the Youth Media Agency has started a campaign called #Presschange4youth, leading to a lot of support from various individuals and organizations. The fact is, it’s a shame it has to come to this, but representation of young people in the media is my youth council’s campaign for this year.
The British Youth Council is yet another positive activity that young people take part in, letting them have a voice on a local level, or if you are confident enough to stand up in the Houses of Parliament and make a speech, Youth Parliament. It gives a voice to young people everywhere to fight for the issues that matter to us. I am very proud to say that I am a member of my district and county youth councils, but I let others do the standing up in Parliament bit.
Writing and spreading my views and positive messages about young people has given me so many opportunities. From being a writer for several online publications to working with my peers on media projects, it’s all good.
In a picture I saw online, the text says, “Attention Journalists. This is a War Zone!” Thinking about the negative portrayal of youth in the press, perhaps it should say, “Attention Young Journalists, This is a War Zone!”
If proper change is to come for young people, those who sit around doing nothing need to be more pro-active and young journalists need to use the tools provided by the internet to spread the positive news about what young people can really achieve.
This is a war zone, all right, and we are ready for them!