Is print media in India negative about seniors – The facts
A study conducted by Archana Kaushik from the Department of Social Work in Delhi scanned over 30,000 articles covering six English and Hindi newspapers having the widest circulation and in the 30,000 articles that she scanned, she found that the print media accorded less than 1% space to the subject of the elderly. She also scanned 500 articles in leading magazines over a period of three months and could only find one article on the elderly and that too on dementia. Even this was not a full-fledged article but only dealt with the life-threatening aspects of the condition. (Again fulfilling the specter of vulnerability and hopelessness).
Creating a improper image of seniors in the minds of young
Moreover whatever little space is accorded to senior citizens is primarily devoted towards perpetuating negative stereotypes. The elderly are depicted as being physically unfit, on the verge of chronic illness, having unattractive looks and no voice of their own. They are shown as being silent and ignored. The encouragement given to plastic surgery, botox injections and medical methods to make people look younger also creates a negative vibe about getting old. The often untrue and one sided depictions not only create a wrong image of the old in the minds of the young and middle aged readers but also leads to developing a negative self image. Both these processes have harmful long term consequences in the life of the young and the old alike.
Our seniors are still most avid readers of newspapers
In the age of the Internet, print media has slowly relegated towards becoming a traditional form of media. It is now more common among the youth to utilise social media or online television to stay connected and for entertainment. Reading habits have slowly shifted to E-readers. But even today, the aged are comparatively more comfortable with reading printed newspapers and magazines. This form of media was around when they were young. It is difficult for them to learn how to use and shift to the modern media forms. Exceptions are always there, but most educated senior citizens are more likely to engage themselves in gaining news and entertainment through the traditional form of the print media.
Why is the media doing this?
All forms of media primarily target those who comprise the majority of the population. As India is a young country and the middle-aged hold the second degree of importance, the aged are easily shifted to the back. The limited spending nature of the elderly is also an important reason for the ignorance of senior citizens in the print media.
A lot of work is needed to encourage print media to provide positive and realistic messages about the elderly. Old aged people need to be presented just as they are. Instead of making their old age as the central theme of any piece about them, they should be shown with all their diversity intact. It is only then that truly inclusive journalism will be possible.
How can we help our parents avoid negativity
- Encourage them to spend more time on net and visit websites with positive intent.
- If they are more comfortable with a book – then subscribe magazines like
- Celebrate age – for positive articles of seniors.
- Dignity dialogue – for positive articles of seniors.
- Readers digest. – for content on health, travel etc.
- Magazines related to travel, photography, gardening, DIY magazines depending on your parent’s interests.
Most of us are concerned about our parent’s safety and well-being, especially when we have no other choice but to stay away from them for work commitments.
Parents who enter the phase of emptynest have more leisure time than ever. It is important that they engage with something new, intellectually stimulating and of course enjoyable at the same time, this will in turn help them in delaying their ageing process. Reading a newspaper is fine but spending more time than necessary could bring negative impacts for the reasons cited above.
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