Ageism & Media

The Ageism and Media Project is a part of the SSM overall plan of Creating a Culture of Inclusion.

Older adults receive messages conveyed by society in 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.

Media Monitoring 2019

The Ageism and Media Project has tracked data on how older adults are portrayed in the media in South and Central Saskatchewan. The first monitoring took place in February 2017. It gathered data about the reality of messages received through Saskatchewan’s commonly used news media: newspapers, radio and television. The results were analyzed and a report on the research completed in July 2017.

Ageism & Media Monitoring Final Report

Monitoring: One Page Summary

The report has been used to raise awareness and influence the media, raising awareness of attitudes towards older adults and the use of negative stereotypes and assumptions. Messages received through the media reveal societal attitudes that have an effect on how older adults perceive themselves and their value within their communities. 

Words are Powerful Style Guide

The research showed that older adults were often left out of news stories, even if the story had important implications for their lives. As well, societal stereotypes about older people were evident. An interesting aspect was that the monitors, many of whom were older adults, had internalized ageist attitudes and did not always notice the ageist stereotypes. Volunteers monitoring the same story reacted differently to ageist stereotypes that were present in the story.

How Media Monitoring Worked                                                  

Volunteers agreed to intensively monitor the news sources they could access – local newspapers (daily and weekly); local and/or provincial radio news broadcasts; local television news broadcasts (rather than national news broadcasts). Media Monitoring Days took place from February 9 to 22, 2019. Monitors worked in communities of varying sizes and locations in south and central Saskatchewan. Each Media Monitor volunteer used a standardized set of monitoring tools to collect the necessary information. The monitoring forms were sent to Linda Anderson, Ageism & Media Project Coordinator at SSM, who supervised the collation and analysis of the data collected. Linda offered training and support for volunteer monitors.                               

Quantitative Analysis

There were two main aspects to the monitoring. The study collected quantitative (i.e. numerical) data. This part of the project provided a detailed picture of the numbers of older adults referred to in some way in Saskatchewan news; the types of story in which they are found, the roles they play in the news, etc. For each of the news media – television, radio and newspapers – we have developed a monitoring guide which sets out the areas in which information is needed and the range of answers a monitor will give. Monitors were asked to choose a number or ‘code’ that corresponded to their answer and to enter this code on a coding form. Each monitoring guide took monitors through step-by-step examples, showing exactly how to select codes for two sample news stories.

Qualitative Analysis

The numbers, or quantitative data, tell only part of the story. For instance, we might find that older adults appear in 10 percent of stories about politics, but that does not show how the stories actually portray older adults. To get a more complete picture of news content, we need to analyse the quality of the coverage. This is the qualitative aspect of the monitoring. We asked each monitor to apply qualitative analysis to some stories that they identify as suitable case studies. The Monitoring Guides gave guidance on how to identify these stories.

Media Monitors 2019               

Each media monitor agreed to monitor news stories in newspapers and on television and radio (as much as they could during a 2 week period – February 9 to 22, 2019). Stories that were about an older person (50+) or that were particularly relevant to the lives of older adults were analyzed using common response forms provided by SSM.

Daily newspapers were monitored on two Saturdays (February 9 and 16) and on 2 other days during the 2 week period (monitor’s choice).

Weekly newspapers could be monitored any time during the 2-week period, depending upon when they were published. Television and radio could be monitored on 4 days during the 2 week period (monitor’s choice).

All monitors received training, clear directions and support in how to collect the data, and responded to the Ageism and Media Coordinator, Linda Anderson  or phone 306-539-1281.

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