TAEN debate on ageism in the media
On Wednesday 28 March, The Age and Employment Network (TAEN), held the first in a series of debates; 'Does Ageism in the Media Impact upon Older People's Prospects of Employment'? The debate was supported by ESF Technical Assistance.
With stimulating and at times controversial viewpoints from panellists including Camilla Palmer, a Partner at Leigh Day and Co solicitors, and Ed Howker, a journalist and co-author of 'Jilted Generation: How Britain Bankrupted its Youth', there was a lively and informative debate, chaired by Caroline Waters, Director of People and Policy for the BT group.
The other panel members, Michael Rubenstein, Publisher of 'Equal Opportunities Review' Magazine and Equality Law Reports, and Michelle Stanistreet, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), contributed legal expertise and an industry insider's point of view respectively.
As the solicitor who successfully represented Miriam O'Reilly in her discrimination case against the BBC, Camilla Palmer considered whether gender issues play a role in ageism and talked about the perceptions of men and women as they age.
Ed Howker talked about the different aspects of the media and the way in which they reinforce age stereotypes – and described television as more discriminating than any other medium. He also raised the role of the print media, particularly to support empathy between the generations, when what is often featured relates more to intergenerational conflict. Michelle Stanistreet explained that the NUJ is aware of these issues, and sends out guidelines on reporting on age to all its 38,000 members in the UK and Ireland.
Michael Rubenstein emphasised the importance of older people being encouraged and supported to stay in work, explaining that for every year people work longer, one per cent is added to GDP.
The audience was keen to participate and many comments and questions were raised, from asking whether the number of recent high profile cases of age discrimination would have any impact on people's ageist attitudes, to one member's view that ageism was an intrinsic part of our national identity. TAEN recorded that there was a general consensus amongst those attending that ageism was considered by many in society to be the last acceptable 'ism' and much work still needed to be done to combat this type of discrimination.
After the success of this inaugural event, TAEN are already working on the next debate and hope to announce more details soon.