We are specialists (signed by more than 150 people) spanning fields of nursing, public health, health systems, medicine, health and social care professionals, social policy, advocacy and NGO organisations.
We write to express our utmost concern over recent examples of the inappropriate use of language by some media outlets in their reporting of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
We ask that those in a position to shape the narrative of older people’s experiences in our media do so carefully.
Terms such as “elderly”, “seniors”, “pensioners”, “elders” and “OAPs” are considered stereotypical, ageist and disrespectful.
One national newspaper used the term “nappies” to describe continence management whilst a journalist on RTÉ news made reference to older people “dropping like flies” both which are particularly unacceptable and upsetting.
The overuse of the phrase “underlying condition” diminishes the lives and deaths of people who die from Covid-19. It also contributes to a creeping narrative that some lives are more expendable than others.
We acknowledge and thank you all for the work you have done in reporting the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland.
We hope that this letter will encourage further action and ask in particular that you revise your editorial guidelines to ensure more inclusive language.
Dr Éidín Ní Shé
UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems
University College Dublin
- This readers’ opinion will be published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner on April 24, 2020.