In the UK, ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination, with one in three people experiencing age-based prejudice or discrimination.
Research shows the media often uses age-related stereotypes and commonly portray growing older and older age as a time of decline and frailty. Ageism in the media can also be seen in narratives about intergenerational unfairness which characterise older people as rich at the expense of younger groups, even though millions of older people are living around or below the poverty line. Women also face a ‘double jeopardy’ of sexism and ageism in media reporting.
Whilst ageism is often perceived as being less harmful than other forms of discrimination, normalising and reinforcing ageist attitudes manifests in discriminatory practices in everyday life that impact upon our health and wellbeing in many ways, whilst limiting our opportunities for employment and access to health care.
We get more – not less – diverse with age (e.g. in terms of income, health, social relationships). Given its role in public life and power to influence attitudes and opinion, the media has a duty to ensure that older people’s experiences are more accurately reflected in the stories we see and read in the news every day.
Download Media guidelines for reporting on ageing and older age