In this project, we explore how journalists, the aged care industry, and citizens have told the story of aged care, and asks the key research questions: Which variables impede or enable the dissemination of stories from the Royal Commission? Whose voices are heard, and in which mediums?
The media analysis component of this project involves large-scale data analysis of the country’s most influential national print, digital, and broadcast news outlets in order to identify who or what is made visible or rendered invisible. Beyond this, it also seeks to identify the nuances of how those visibilities operate in daily news coverage. Drawing on the lens of symbolic annihilation and visual news values, it does this through a qualitative representational and visual analysis of nationwide news coverage over this nearly three-year period, starting with the calling of the Royal Commission in 2018 through to four weeks after the government’s response in May 2021.
Our research has discovered that when older people are represented in the news, journalists tend to depict them in stereotypical, shallow, or disempowering ways. The results of the media analysis serve to inform media practice and can guide news workers seeking to represent this demographic with dignity, nuance, and depth. As such, based on the media analysis conducted so far, a guide has been created for media which includes nine considerations to help journalists and news outlets to ponder their coverage of older people and promote more respectful, representative, and engaging news about older people.
In the next phase of the media analysis, the research team will interview prominent social affairs journalists covering the sector about the challenges of covering aged care and telling aged care stories.