Most media don’t really give a hoot about young people. Coverage for youth is centred on two events per year: matric results and Youth Day. In between? Not much. And the feeling is mutual. But this is not good for the future of our country or the media.
I was part of a group of researchers, led by Rhodes University, that did a baseline study called ‘Youth identity, the media and the public sphere in South Africa’. The study aimed to discern how the various forms of media shape the identity of young people in South Africa.
We wanted to find out whether the media reflected youth voices, and if media contributes to the civic identity of young people. We analysed the content of media coverage over 18 months in the mainstream press and spoke to 956 respondents aged 15 to 30 about their news consumption. We topped this up with focus groups of a total of 107 participants. Here are some of the results: