For those of you that don’t know I am going to give a little bit of background before I get into the good stuff. Monday 13th February was the day when 10 young people marched to the Royal Courts Of Justice in order to give a submission to the Levenson Enquiry about the way in which young people are portrayed in the media. With our research we found that 76% of press about young people is negative, which is wholly unbalanced and we are here to put the record straight. More information about everything can be found at www.youthmediaagency.org.uk. Right, well enough of that formal stuff…
It must have been over a week now, but it feels longer, since I was asked to an interview with Eddie Nestor on Drivetime BBC London 94.9FM radio. It was on my birthday that one of his researchers called, 14th February (yes I have heard all of the Valentines’ jokes thank you!) and I was asked to come into the studio and have a chat with him. Of course I said no, being my first day off and being at home properly since August. Then I realised that I had made a monumentally stupid mistake. Luckily, good ol’ Eddie got me on the phone, and he invited me down to see him face to face…I was definitely going to be ready. Dealing with a fair few journalists in my time, I know that one thing you have to be is prepared, questions can range from the mundane to the obscure and I was not going to be caught out.
As you can imagine, the butterflies were doing cartwheels inside my stomach before we were due to go on, considering I was told that I was the main person that he was going to talk to. I relished the challenge, but that didn’t stop my hands from shaking! Going into the small studio, made it slightly cosier and I believe in all seriousness that Eddie was glad to have us on. It was interesting to listen to the interview back as it felt completely different to how it felt live. What felt like probing questions and awkward answers seemed to be a lot more friendly and seamless as I listened to it again. Although what I learnt was that, regardless of my experience with journalists, and Eddie’s obvious politician-style dodge when we asked about a regular feature, that the BBC were prepared to listen.
Yet Eddie is not right in some respects. Young people have valid opinions across the board, not just on issues affecting young people; their perspective is as good as any. And it is not just about helping old ladies across the road, but getting record A Level results, or having less young people going to prison or more young people spending more time selflessly than other any person before them. These are just the tip of the iceberg…most young people will tell you.
The fact that millions of people heard what we had to say and agreed with us showed us that some of the things we hear are not true. Adults want to believe in young people. They just need to know how. And that is where we come in. That is where it clicked. The reason why previous campaigns on this issue have failed…because they ONLY focus on young people and not adults as well, which is only half-hearted.
That is why I think that we will succeed where others have failed. That is why over 65 youth organisations representing millions of young people have backed us. Because we bridge the gap between the young and old, taking both opinions to the media and telling them we have had enough. And I have. This may be the only chance in a generation to change the way that we are spoken, listened and written about and I am not about to pass up that chance. I hope you are not either. If any journalists are reading this, I think there is a story here…you would be foolish to pass it up!
If you have enjoyed reading this and would like to support the campaign please go to www.youthmediaagency.org.uk for more details.
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LISTEN TO THE RADIO INTERVIEW: http://www.bbc.co.uk/i/p00ntq93/ (45 minutes in)