Youth in the News

I wasn’t able to find a significant amount of news about youth or teens in either London, or my hometown Kitchener, in the last week. The majority of the news that I did find involving this demographic reflected the death of a 17-year old Kitchener boy, when he was struck by a car while riding his bike, and a 15-year old boy who was mugged by an 18-20 year old man in Kitchener on the way to a public library. I found those pieces of news to be fairly generic, with little more included than information you would expect in such news stories. Both boys described were victims and accordingly they were positively represented.

After doing this weeks reading Representations of Youth in Local Media: Implications for Library Science by Anthony Bernier I was shocked by the study’s findings about the number of negative reporting’s in the news involving teens. When I think about the representation of the demographic that such reporting’s create, I have a hard time understanding why the positive things teens do are not focused on more. I was almost pleasantly surprised – pleasantly not really being the best expression of how I felt considering the events that inspired the news articles – by the articles that I found.

I didn’t want to focus on either of these articles because I feel that so much more can be learned from articles that represent teens in a negative way. The article I ultimately selected, Accused Teen A Lucas Grad, is very interesting, because given the fact that Michael MacGregor has been charged with first-degree murder, it is somewhat understandable that he would be presented in a negative way.

The article was attempting to spotlight some part about who MacGregor is, by attempting to interview a representative from the high school and college MacGregor attended, as well as interviewing people who went to his high school. The interesting thing is that the majority of the people interviewed who were featured in the article, didn’t know MacGregor at all.

Terminology and descriptions of some of MacGregor’s habits, including the website where he apparently met fellow murder suspect Tanya Bogdanovich, were very strong described with what I can only assume was intentionally graphic language. All of these components help the reader create a negative impression of MacGregor. But, as I previously stated, given the crime he is accused of, that representation is somewhat understandable.

What I found more interesting than the way MacGregor was presented in the article, was the way other teens interviewed about MacGregor were presented. The one line that really stuck out to me was, “Another girl, smoking outside school property, said MacGregor was ‘a nice guy. He has a nice family.’” The fact that the girl was interviewed outside of school property smoking, to me, is not a pertinent detail. Smoking, socially, is not really viewed as a positive habit. It may just be me, but I feel that adding the detail of smoking is used to create a specific image or idea about the validity of what the interviewee was saying. She also had the only opinion that represented MacGregor in a somewhat positive way.

I found my reactions to the information included, and the language used to present that information to be very interesting – especially because I was paying such close attention to my responses. While I don’t feel that there is a way to positively represent someone that is being charged of murder, I did find it very interesting that the one voice with something positive to say was, in my opinion, intentionally negatively represented.

The full article is available through The London Free Press.

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