Television news, current affairs and young people: the problem of 'disconnection'

A three-year £108,000 Research Project Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council


Research team

Research assistants

The aim of this project, which began in January 2006, is to explore the relationship between contemporary UK television news and current affairs programming and young people (16-24 year olds). Television could provide an important resource of information, interpretive frameworks and debate about the social, political, economic and cultural dimensions of young peoples lives.

However, there is evidence of a problem of disconnection between television news, current affairs and young people, just as there is evidence of a broader disconnection between elected political representatives and the public. The reasons for this broader crisis in political representation clearly go beyond the question of media representation, but the latter may well be isomorphic with these deeper problems around a lack of inclusiveness, participation, diversity and engagement.

Using content analysis, audience research and interviews with programme makers, this study will explore how extensively television’s representation of news/current affairs would have to be reconfigured (judged against existing output) in order to engage the interest of young people and how far broadcasters are able and/or willing to explore new types of provision in this area.

For further details or enquiries, please email the project co-ordinator Dr Michael Wayne,


Details of the conference held on 7 December  – 9 December 2007 at BFI Southbank.


Interviews with broadcasters


  • ‘UK Television News: Monopoly Politics and Cynical Populism’ in Television and New Media 2009.
  • ‘Television News and Young People’ in Sociology Review September 2009.
  • Television News and the Symbolic Criminalisation of Young People' in Journalism Studies Vol.9, no.1, 2008.
  • ‘Monopoly Politics and Television News in the UK’ in International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, vol.3, no.2.
  • A book on the subject will be published by Palgrave in 2010 under the title: Television News, Young People and Politics: Generation Disconnected?

Page last updated: Wednesday 07 September 2011