Media takes: on aging

Media takes: on aging

Style guide to using non-ageist language

Older adults have the right to fair and accurate portrayal of their stories and their issues. This document  outlines the ageist depiction of older adults and provides the necessary tools for professionals to help proactively combat stereotypes.

Looking at journalism, the entertainment and advertising industries, particularly in the United States, this report aims to provide an important step in overcoming ageist language and beliefs by providing journalists and others who work in the media with an appropriate body of knowledge.  It also includes a glossary of terms and guidance on use.

The guide offers recommendations for accurate portrayal of ageing, including:

  • for journalism: avoid stereotypical and demeaning terminology, for instance it is possible the word senior “has probably had its moment". Consider the applicability of stories on ageing. The media often make generalisations about the economic status of older adults. Remember that older adults are not a monolithic group
  • for the entertainment industry: surveys of older people show they are interested in seeing older characters with balance and diversity in mainstream popular programming, and older people as presenters of and participants in fact-based programs. The preconceived notion that older participants and guests turn young audiences away doesn’t bear out. Professionals involved in film production – particularly screenwriters, but also casting directors, producers and directors can have significant, positive influence on the portrayal of older adults
  • for advertising: products targeting boomers are set to become the next big ad category in the coming years. There are positive stereotypes that can be portrayed.  Assume older adults and boomers think as individuals, not as a cohort.  Design for readability: in addition to terminology and wording, advertisers and marketers must also remember design