Aging Today: Does the Nightly News Accurately Represent the Participation of Older Americans in Social Movements?

This post is based on Aging Today’s Minutes and Moments segment.

No. Television news does not always accurately represent the participation of older Americans in social movements.  For example, survey research found that 29% of the individuals attending Tea Party events were between the ages of 50 and 64, and 21% of attendees were over 65.  Yet, when it came to coverage of the Tea Party Movement, attendees and movement representatives over the age of 50 were almost never featured in news stories. The underrepresentation of older Americans’ political participation is worse when we consider demographics such as gender and race. Older women, for instance, are rarely included in news coverage of the women’s movement. Similarly, older women of color are almost completely absent from news coverage. This is true even when stories focus on the civil rights movement and immigrant rights movement. Social Scientists argue that underrepresenting the participation of older Americans in social movements is problematic because it reinforces stereotypes that seniors have limited participation in politics.  

You can listen to more Minutes and Moments on Aging Today.

Dr. Rohlinger is a Professor of Sociology, a Director of Research for the Institute of Politics, a Research Associate in the Pepper Institute of Aging and Public Policy, and an Associate Dean for Faculty Development and Community Engagement at Florida State University. You can learn more about Dr. Rohlinger here.

The feature image is from Pexels.

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