Thursday, 8 October 2009

15 minutes of fame?

One of the young women who uses the WEYES project was interviewed this week by local radio. They wanted to talk to a young person about bullying -  what she knew about it, what she thought about it, what she thought should be done about it. She was happy to be interviewed provided a staff member from the WEYES project sat in on the recording which took place at the WEYES project this week. The young woman was very articulate and the radio people were pleased with the interview which will be broadcast next week.

A couple of weeks ago Children North East was approached by a TV researcher seeking 'heartwarming stories' of ordinary people who are making a success of their lives despite the recession. He hoped we could put him in touch with suitable people. We decided to be helpful and a meeting took place with the researcher, director and assistant director but it became apparent that the people appearing would have no control over what was broadcast; and we were worried about the impact on the people concerned of appearing on TV. We did agree to ask a one person if they would like to take part but they declined.

Neither of these was about promoting Children North East or WEYES, in both cases the 'media' wanted to learn from ordinary people. An admirable enough purpose but what the media don't do is explain what the consequences might be: how you might end up presented in a way you would not be happy with; how being recognised in the street might cause you problems. Many of the people who use our services are vulnerable in some way (that is what the services are for) and Children North East feels a responsibility to protect our service users from exploitation. Of course it is their decision whether to speak to radio, TV or newspaper reporters but they should only go into it knowing what the consequences could be for themselves.

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