News media can play a crucial role in bringing awareness around different issues and how they affect various groups in a society. Furthermore, journalists have the capacity to shape how these issues are understood by their audiences through their reporting. The challenge is existing in a vast world, with diverse audiences and making every day decisions about which issues to focus on and how to adequately satisfy audience’s needs overtime. It is a gruelling task but one that must be frequently checked to ascertain which groups tend to be marginalised in the media and to work towards ensuring that their issues are gradually amplified within this space. South African youth for instance face a myriad of issues yet at least one study posits that while this group engage with various forms of media “to build their civic identities” and generally display “high levels of trust in the media”, they do not feel that the media are relevant to them.
Much like previous research MMA has conducted into the representation of children (individuals aged 0-18) in South African media, the findings in this report suggest, amongst other things, that youth issues are underrepresented in the news. The findings further demonstrate a discrepancy between youth expectation and current media reporting trends. The manner in which media tended to report on youth also indicated jarring inequalities afforded to different sexes and racial groups in news reporting.
Read the report titled Youth through the Media Lens here.