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Media and the Socially Excluded

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Derwayne M. Wills
Member since April 2, 2015
  • 19 Posts
  • Age 25

When the media misrepresents marginalised or socially excluded groups, it is really an injustice to two groups of people. It is an injustice to the marginalised groups being covered, as well as an injustice to the readership, whose perceptions will be guided by inaccurate reports coming from the uninformed press corps.

Sure, the media is regarded as a social and political watchdog, but there is a widening gap between civil society and the media that must be bridged. Whether social advocates for the rights of LGBT, migrants, differently-abled persons, at-risk youth, or any other focus group, organisations must see themselves working alongside the media to advance their causes.

When President Obama visited Jamaica in 2015, he made pro-LGBT statements that had a lot of people buzzing. Jamaica is known for its widespread, even institutional victimisation of the LGBT community.

In my excitement, I had written a blog post on an aspect of the President’s position that I thought was not well reported in the media that covered the US President’s trip to the Caribbean island.

I was so excited. I had done my research, my friend proofread my piece, and then I published.

Later that day, I received a call from a gentleman who was from a prominent LGBT advocacy organisation in the Caribbean. I couldn't imagine why he would reach out to me, but what he did really was to open my eyes to the injustice I had done to the LGBT community.

It was one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, but it had to happen. How could I claim to know what are the problems facing LGBT youth in the Caribbean when I have no exposure to such problems? How can I claim to write on behalf of a group who have, time and time again, been forced into a corner by negative perceptions about their identity?

The media has the power to amplify the stories of the downtrodden, the marginalised, and the socially excluded. The media can ensure that marginalised, and socially excluded groups are afforded their space in the grand scheme of governance. This is a far-reaching and valuable asset.

Civil society must learn to capitalise on the media and work towards bringing marginalised and socially excluded groups out of the shadows.

The media must be a catalyst for branding in the psyche of the public that these groups are legitimate. It is through this legitimacy that policy makers and administrators must recognise the presence of these groups in the grand scheme of governance.

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