In the said analysis, this writer will elucidate upon as to why and how the type of media portrayal is what it is at present.
The mass media has become an integral part of the postmodern society. Everyone, regardless of age, has some form of interaction with mass media in his life. Spring (1993) gives an estimate of how much of their leisure time elderly people (above-50) spend listening to the radio, watching television, listening to music, reading and going to the movies. His research reveals that as much as forty percent of their leisure is time dedicated to these activities.
Knowing this, it is easy to see why creating a more accurate picture, if not a more compassionate and humanistic one, of the elderly’s situation in the realm of mass media, is very important. Curbing negativities in media’s portrayal of the elderly, many as they are as will be seen in the following paragraphs, should be given high priority. This is so because, it is undeniable that the mass media impacts interpersonal interaction1, affects our mental and physical health2, and, as most relevant to the proceeding discussion, the mass media greatly influence perceptions of aging and elderly people3.
The images of the elderly as shown by the media vary depending on the (1) underlying purposes for which these images are created and, quite surprisingly, by the (2) type of communication medium in question. Broadly speaking, there are two types of media portrayal of the ageing population, first is the positive kind of portrayal, while the second paints a more negative picture of the group. Applying the concepts of sociology, the cause of this negative portrayal can be attributed to the phenomenon of ageism4 which will be given more attention later in this paper. For now, a more detailed presentation of the two types of portrayal is called for.
Underlying purposes No great amount of intellect needs to be