Is the British media representative?

March 22, 2011, 9:08 PM GMT+0

The British public feels that young people are portrayed too negatively in the media, closely followed by the portrayal of transsexuals, gypsies and travellers, immigrants and Muslims, our poll has found. We asked 2,666 British adults if they thought certain groups in society were treated fairly, unfairly negatively, or unfairly positively in the media.

  • 46% think young people are subject to unfairly negative media attention, compared to 29% who think their portrayal is fair, and 10% who, in contrast, feel their portrayal is overly positive
  • 35% say immigrants receive unfairly negative treatment in the media, while 29% view their portrayal as fair and 18% feel they are portrayed overly positively
  • 34% apiece believe that gypsies and travellers, Muslims, working class people and transsexuals are represented too negatively in the media, but on balance, transsexuals are seen to suffer the most from this set, as only 26% actively think they are portrayed fairly compared to 37% for the working class, 30% for Muslims, and 32% for gypsies and travellers

Groups in society from our list seen to be portrayed the most fairly include women (53% actively think they are shown in a fair light), businessmen (47% say their portrayal is generally fair), people from the USA (46%) and middleclass and disabled people (46% actively think they are portrayed fairly).

Media muddle over Midsomer Murders

How different groups of society are presented in the media has been a talked-about topic in the press recently due to the suspension of Brian True-May, producer of ITV crime drama series Midsomer Murders, as a result of his comments on the programme’s ethnic diversity. In an interview with the Radio Times, Mr True-May referred to the programme, which has an all-white cast and is set in a rural English village, as ‘the last bastion of Englishness’ and said actors from ethnic minorities ‘wouldn’t work’ in the drama series. Broadcaster ITV suspended True-May, saying it was ‘shocked and appalled’ by his remarks.

Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins defended the producer’s representation of traditional English villages, which, he agreed, were not normally very ethnically diverse, but this view has also been disputed elsewhere in the press, with many speaking out for the 44,000 people belonging to an ethnic minority that currently live in ‘rural’ England. Others have questioned whether Brian True-May’s comments should be judged on their accuracy, claiming that the programme, which features at least one murder per episode, is highly unrealistic anyway.

See the survey details and full results here