Academic journal article Generations

Journalist Exchange on Aging: Support for Covering a Complex Field

Academic journal article Generations

Journalist Exchange on Aging: Support for Covering a Complex Field

Article excerpt

In 1993, a group of journalists attending the annual meeting of the American Society on Aging formed the Journalist Exchange on Aging. The JEOA is now a loose-knit group of more than 700 journalists from all types of media in the United States and Canada who frequently or regularly cover issues in aging. The JEOA is an unaffiliated group and costs nothing to join. People on the JEOn list receive theAge Beat newsletter, notices of major meetings in aging, and opportunities to meet other journalists covering this complex and growing field of interest. Most important, JEOA enables journalists to tap into national and regional resources that can provide background on a wide range of concerns, from the future of Social Security to the situation of grandparents caring for at-risk grandchildren.

The first task of the initial JEOA group was to survey journalists nationwide about their interest in forming an information exchange. The enthusiasm for starting the JEOA poured in-in the form of 130 returned questionnaires. They confirmed that the age beat is not only growing but is a reporter-driven area. The topic continues to be proposed by writers who discover the richness of an area that touches every family and crosses social, political, human interest, and scientific boundaries.

JEOA journalism survey reports published in 1994, 1997, and 2001 established that journalists covering aging are "seasoned and sensitized." Although the age beat is new, the reports revealed that those covering it averaged two decades as journalism professionals, and eight out of nine respondents were sensitive to issues in aging in part because they had experienced aspects of issues in aging themselves or through their families. …

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