Older Adults and the Media



Permanent Observatory of Older Adults and the Media of the UPUA
Vice-rector's Office of University Extension - University of Alicante
Students Association of the Permanent University – University of Alicante
Concepción Bru Ronda upua.direccion@ua.es
Irene Ramos Soler irene.ramos@ua.es
Context: evaluation of the needs and the problems, Prospect of achievement
Studies have shown that the older adults are considered as a marginal, useless and unproductive group. The negative stereotypes kept by the society and the older adults themselves can reduce the capacity of adaptation of the people and affect their quality of life and their health. Therefore, our responsability is to fight the discrimination of the old age.
From this thought, the group of researchers and students of the UPUA proposed this project, in which the students of the UPUA, coordinated by experts in different fields, will research about the image of the older adults that is projected in the arts and the media, they will analize that image, compare it with their own perception of the reality and act accordingly.
Specific Aims: Analize the image of the older adults, compare it with the image that the older adults have of themselves and think about the possible differences; eliminate the stereotypes; promote activities among students and alumni of the UPUA in order to improve their self-esteem and the interpersonal relationships; propose ways to make a good use of the knowledge of the older adults, promote an academic improvement and a better control of the study, research and work techniques.
Entries: Challenges that originate the project, place, dates and infrastructure, staff and collaborating people     
The Permanent University of the University of Alicante started the Permanent Seminary of Analysis “OLDER PEOPLE AND THE MEDIA” in 2005, with the aim of directing its work towards a future observatory. This seminary worked with research groups made up of older adults that monitored the Spanish media reality on the treatment given to older adults by the media.
The seminary made the teachers, researchers and attending people of the Permanent University think about the need of addressing this analysis from the older adults' perspective, which not always coincides with the one of the medie. That resulted in the workshop “The older adults and the Media: treatment of a presence”, organized by the collaborating teachers of the Permanent University Fernando Embid  Fernández and Mª Dolores Berenguer Ros. Infrastructure resources, academic and administrative support have been assigned to support and monitor this iniciative
Process: organization, methodology and coordination of resources       
In this good practice the older adults themselves are “researchers-subject of research”, given that every group of students is coordinated by an student-researcher older adult that also coordinates each one of the different fields and is in charge of compiling the data. The compiled data are given to the teacher that promotes the debates, the feedback and the statistical method of analysis. The conclusions are used to address the action strategies in that field.
The seminary is carried out during the academic course, from October to June. The attendance will be bimonthly: a session of two hours and a half to three hours every fifteen days, for each group to share the compiled data and to solve doubts, debate and share the data that are spread and published as a social action and an example of active civic responsibility.
The idea of teachers, experts in all thematic fields, participating, helps in order to treat the data under an interdisciplinary dimension. Thus, having assistance from journalism, sociology or statistics’ experts allows this workshop to obtain a specialized dimension.
Product: main conclusions and suggestions, elaborated material, suggestions for the future, improvement alternatives.        
The work of the Observatory has been reporting data that can iniciate the debate on the image that the society gets of this group. The data were gathered mainly by analyzing commercials, press and radio as consumers and consumption promoters and national television fiction programs, as narrators and as target audience.
Some of the results: the writing of a MANIFESTO, some articles, participation in a forum, the creation of the Blog “Seniors and the mass media” in 2008 and the Intergenerational Radio, "This radio is not for old people"  inside the University Radio, offering a one-hour biweekly programme.
In 2009 the Conferences "21st Century Social Challenges: Older Adults and the Media" were carried out. Among the 130 people who attended, there were media technicians and managers, teachers involved in research and academic managers of University Programs for older adults, media managers, companies and professionals of social work and mediation and a large number of older students.
The members of the Observatory also took part in the Presentation “Breaking Old Stereotypes” with an audiovisual contribution to breaking the negative image of the older adults given by the society and the media, de los mayores reflejada por la sociedad y los medios. They also regularly publish articles in the press and in senior specialized media.
The Permanent University of the University of Alicante has organized different Conferences in order to preseent the iniciative to other interested centers and to the public in general. It has also sent this iniciative to other universities and groups of older adults which have already put it into practice. The products of the Observatory are meant to be widespread, helping so with making the iniciative more visible.
For further information on the Observatory and the products go to: