Over 60s demand more from the media

Twenty-five percent of our population will soon be aged over 60, and many of us have money to spend; a media advertising department’s dream come true.  Most of us have retired and at last, have time for a relaxed and more luxurious lifestyle.  Fashion, beauty, restaurants, cars, travel, technology, appliances, home decor, caravans, campers and boats are all in the mix.  How do we find out what is on offer and what might appeal?  We study advertisements in publications, online and on television and it is this advertising which makes profits for media outlets. 

Please portray older folk honestly and use actors and models who actually are over 60.  There are plenty of good lookers in the 60 to 80 age group.  We are irritated when we see 40 and 50 year-olds pretending to be senior citizens.

Talking of irritation, here is a suggestion for you in two words.  PROOF READ.  We-of-a-certain-age have been properly educated and recoil when we see grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.  “Eight-four percent was amusing but missing the T in Retin-A made the paragraph meaningless.

Lack of general knowledge and wrong information is unforgivable – The Queen, as head of the Church Of England, was probably not planning to attend Mass at her local Church Of England on Christmas morning; Mass being a Roman Catholic Service.  News item about a big development happening here in Tassie named the developer as Errol Flynn (a Tasmanian movie star from the 1930’s, now deceased).  The developer is actually named Errol Stewart.

I would suggest that news readers who rely on an auto cue, have a look through before going to air.  Too many embarrassing stumbles obviously caused by auto cue typos.  Recent news item on the horrific car incident in Melbourne’s C.B.D. “——-The car into ran into ———.”  We expect perfect delivery from a news reader.

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I see pieces written about older famous and beautiful women; Quentin Bryce, Ita Buttrose, Margaret Fulton, Blanche D’Alpuget et al.  It is unnecessary to quote their age and give the opportunity to measure their appearance at that age.  In my book “Health & Beauty Tips For Women Aged Between 60 & 80”, I stress that it is not about looking younger; it is about looking beautiful whatever your age.

Please extend your age range to 80 plus.  My recent book Health & Beauty Tips for Women Aged between 60 & 80 partially fills the gap, but around 70 & 80 are even more desperate for advice, ideas and new product information.

Young journalists don’t seem to understand us very well, and I suspect that this is the reason why so much in the media is patronising.  Why express surprise when describing the lady celebrating her 100th birthday because she looks so glamourous?  Of course, she looks glam.  It’s a big party.  There will be photographs, the press will be there, and even the Queen is involved.  A moment’s research would have informed the journalist that the party girl had been an icon of the fashion industry for more than 70 years!

It is not unusual for older people to lead busy and productive lives.  If we are still in the land of the living, we are likely to be busy and occupied because it is as normal for oldies as it is for young folk.  The media should not treat what is normal as surprising or unusual.  We dislike a condescending attitude most of all.

A couple of years ago, my husband Allan competed in the “Wildside” mountain bike race.  It ran over five days, and competitors raced against others in their age range.  Allan competed very successfully, and it just so happened that he was the oldest competitor racing.  The press, who were reporting on the event hounded Allan over the five days, only wanting to emphasise his age.  Allan being Allan had two words for them.  “P—- off.”

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Hundreds of thousands of seniors enjoy near-perfect health and fly under the radar of the huge medical industry that exists for them.  Perhaps there is a good news story here.  The media must report sensibly on health matters that concern older folk.  Most of us, for all the talk of living to 100, only have a limited number of good years left, so stories about what’s good for our health and the latest obscure research results are likely to flow over us like water off a duck’s back.

Seniors are keen consumers of media; newspapers, magazines, television, radio and online.  We are particularly fond of current affairs programs because we enjoy being up-to-date with the latest controversy, politics, crime, scandal, conflict, disasters and of course issues that relate to our age group.  We adore Sudoku and word puzzles – pay attention here, because the puzzles often influence our choice of publication.

As our numbers grow and we come closer and closer to becoming even more influential in shaping Australian life, I urge the media to find out more about what makes us tick, our attitudes, expectations and interests; what we like and dislike and what we want from the media in order for you to take advantage of the prosperity and opportunity which, with the right approach, is coming your way.

What do you think about Margaret’s thoughts on the media?  What do you think should be done?

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