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Big heads-up on media ethics

Online debate about press intrusion captured young minds, writes Julia Belgutay

Online debate about press intrusion captured young minds, writes Julia Belgutay

Media ethics and whether or not the media is doing its job have been discussed by young participants in a HeadsUp forum.

Coinciding with the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics, the debate, organised by the independent Hansard Society, ran from 21 November to 9 December last year. In that time, the website was visited 4,924 times, and 57 young people contributed.

The youngsters felt excessive intrusion into celebrities' lives was unacceptable, particularly when their children and families were involved. "Celebrities should be able to keep their private photos a secret. They can't enjoy a day at the beach without the press watching their every move," one youngster said on the forum.

Another said: "I do think celebrities deserve some freedom, but the reason they are famous is because of the media and because everyone is interested in their lives."

They also debated the portrayal of young people in the media, and voiced concerns about them being branded as "binge-drinking, drug-taking, fire- starting, pregnant-at-16, violence-causing nuisances".

"I do think that sometimes TV makes all teenagers sound mopey, moany and stroppy and often rude and sometimes stupid or thick . mainly because they feel it will get better viewing because everyone `loves' watching a bunch of teens moan about their own issues," said one contributor.

Whether the media should focus on serious news or entertainment was also discussed. Youngsters spoke out for more clarity in the laws around online information, privacy and personal information.

HeadsUp is an online debating platform for 11-18s. It provides a space for them to air their views on current issues with peers, decision-makers and politicians.

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