Media & Ageism

Media & Ageism is a part of the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism overall plan of Creating a Culture of Inclusion, working in partnership with the Alzheimer Society, the Red Cross, Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU), the Fédération des aînés fransaskois and the Regina Lifelong Learning Centre.

Older adults receive messages conveyed by society through many ways, including the news media.  These messages reveal societal attitudes that have an effect on how older adults perceive themselves and their value within their communities. Positive perceptions tend to encourage people to be active and to lessen chances for being isolated.  The Media and Ageism Project will use most of the first year organizing and conducting Media Monitoring that will gather data about the reality of messages received through Saskatchewan's commonly used media: newspapers, radio and television.  The results will be analyzed and we will then use that data to plan ways to influence media - both systemically and professionally - to be aware of their attitues towards older adults and to reduce the use of negative stereotypes and assumptions.

Data gathered may show an abundance of overt and subliminal messages about seniors/older adults.  Some news stories will convey the message that seniors are needy, frail, costly, clogging the health systems, basically a problem for society. Others may show seniors as vibrant, knowledgeable, energetic, wise assets to society (and who happen to have realistic needs and problems that can be addressed).  We may find that there are very few news stories about seniors/older adults and that they are talked about rather than asked for their viewpoints. However, we won't know for sure what data will show until we have gone through the objective Media Monitoring.

How Media Monitoring Works

Individuals and small groups of volunteers agree to intensively monitor the news sources they can access - local newspaper and/or Saskatoon or Regina newspapers; local and/or provincial radio news broadcasts; local television news broadcasts (rather than national news broadcasts). Monitors will gather data on February 9, 11, 16, 18, 2017.

Each Media Monitor volunteer will have common response forms to use as they collect data about the numbers of stories that are about older adults or that refer to older adults as well as how they are placed in importance in the different media. The quality of the stories will be monitored with reference to how journalists may reinforce or challenge ageist stereotypes.  Monitors will also be asked to assess the messages they receive from the news stories, including subliminal messages and feelings that are invoked by the stories.  Media Monitors will receive very clear directions, training and support leading up to the days of Media Monitoring.

You could be a Media Monitor!

If you are interested in exploring the possibility of taking part in Media Monitoring in February, please contact Linda Anderson at the SSM office by email at AgeIs@skseniorsmechanism.ca or by phone (306-359-9959).

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