Trust and the Media – Who Do You Believe? Guest Blog by RSA Whitley Academy’s Martyna Adam

This is a blog by year 10 student Martyna Adam, a student at the RSA Whitley Academy, Coventry, who attended ‘Trust and the Media – Who Do You Believe?’ at Free Word Centre in March. This was the second debate in a series of four talks exploring the theme of trust and young people. 

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On Monday the 24th of March, I attended a live debate at the Free Word Centre in London, with other students from our school and two teachers. The whole debate was based around Media and whether or not we should trust what the media tells us.

The panel featured the chair Dekan Apajee, a Producer and Broadcaster at the BBC, Piers Bradford, Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra, Derren Lawford, Commissioning Executive for new 24 hour entertainment channel London Live, Ruby Mae Moore, Editor in Chief, Amor Magazine, Angela Philips, Reader in Journalism at Goldsmiths, and Adam Sich, Senior Producer at ITN’s online new’s channel Truthloader. To set the mood and the atmosphere of the debate, a poem was read out by Natasha Bailey, the winner of the Free Word and Young Poets Network competition, all about trust.

To start off, the first topic to be discussed was ‘The camera never lies’. The questions included thoughts about whether we trust photographs that are used in the media, and whether certain images change how you feel about a person or a news story. Adam Sich started saying, “We have really strict rules that we have to stick to and we are not allowed to knowingly use an image to show something or to suggest that it shows something that it doesn’t”. He also talked about how the biggest problem is verifying the photographs and videos that have been sent out.

Ruby Mae Moore talked about the fact that it’s very hard to be certain about what the context of a photo is, and whether it shows exactly what it says it does. One member of the audience said, “I think what a lot of people do is they will find a picture and write a thousand words about it, whereas it should be about writing a story and then finding a picture to go with that story.”

The next subject was ‘What is news?’ and by a show of hands the panelists were able to see where the audience get their news from primarily. The audience then got to see a video about what others thought about what news was. Angela Philips commented, “News is something you didn’t know until you found it out”.

The question that sparked the most interest and was by far the most engaging was the topic about young people’s portrayal in the media and whether young people are presented in a fair way. The audience all agreed that young people are treated unfairly and inaccurately in the media, and that the younger generation is presented negatively. Audience members were saying how they are “fed up of young people being portrayed as crooks, joyriders and vandals”, whilst others said that “bad reflections of people in the media have huge negative effects on how they see themselves”. A change is on its way to switch the portrayal of young people in the media, and actually, it’s young people themselves that are making this happen. The voices need to be heard, and Derren Lawford gave young people a platform when he explained that a new and democratic platform is on its way and it can help share voices of young people fairly. It was realized that the media often bring out all the negatives in a story, without proposing any solutions.

The debate was finally wrapped up with a wonderful poem called ‘Media Village’ By James Massiah, a Poet, Musician and Philosopher. He recited an amazing poem about whom it is we can trust, and how stereotypes have been planted by the media. His poem was a fantastic end to the debate. One of the most important things that I have learned from this debate is to never 100% trust a news story, because after all, we don’t really know who or what to trust.

Martyna Adam

RSA Whitley Academy Student

For full details on the event including the podcast, a short film and to read 19 year old Claudia Andrew’s blog go to Trust and the Media – who do you believe? – on the Free Word website.

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