Professor Merryn Gott, Director of the Te Ārai Group, recently shared the results of its ‘Have Our Say’ letter-writing project at the Nelson Tasman Positive Ageing Expo.
What was the study?
The study analysed nearly 100 media articles published in March 2020, looking closely at how coverage portrayed older people in relation to COVID-19. “We were really interested as to whether our initial reflections about how older people were talked about in the media were borne out through a systematic analysis of media reports,” says Professor Gott.
What were the findings?
The results of the study revealed that almost all articles framed people over 70 as at risk. “Two-thirds framed people over 70 as passive, and only one third framed people over 70 as active. There was also “lots of ‘othering’ talk like, ‘they’ need looking after,” explained Professor Gott.
While these messages were well meaning, Professor Gott indicates that they were at odds with their research. “Some people found this patronising and felt that the media was lumping everyone’s experience into one category and ignoring the fact that some older people are very active in their communities.”
To find out more, read Te Arai Group’s article published last month in the Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand.