'Children, Young People, Media and Transition from Conflict'
Dr. Faith Gordon (University of Westminster)
25th November 2016
Ulster University Belfast Campus
Against the backdrop of McLaughlin's (2006: 60) prediction that the 'transition from conflict to peace' will present 'profound''challenges' for the media in Northern Ireland, the larger study from which this paper derives, explores the role of the media at a time of 'change' and 'transition'. Drawing
on extensive qualitative interview data, this paper firstly explores how those working in the media identify the transition from conflict as a significant contextual influence on the role of the media in the 'new' Northern Ireland. Secondly, the paper focuses on the role of the media in creating negative
representations and maintaining negative ideological constructions of children and young people, in particular those who are the most marginalised, those considered 'anti-social' within their communities and those 'in conflict with the law'. It notes that, in negotiating the impact of 'change' and 'transition',
children and young people living in marginalised and segregated communities in Northern Ireland, continue to experience the legacy of the Conflict and 'persistent economic disadvantage'. Thirdly, this paper draws on a case study of what was framed in media and political discourse as youth 'orchestration'
of, and involvement in, 'sectarian rioting' in Northern Ireland. Within a contextual media analysis it explores how 'fear' was mobilised to represent children and young people as 'dragging' communities 'back through the horrors of the past'. In concluding the paper, a discussion of this climate of hostility,
exposes the symbiotic relationship between the media and police in the criminalisation and regulation of children and young people in Northern Ireland. In particular it concludes that the PSNIs decision within 'Operation Exposure', to publish photographs of children wanted for questioning was an egregious
breach of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It proposes that this policing decision and policy ignored the UN Committee's previous criticisms of the UK State Party's approach to 'naming and shaming' children, while compromising the safety of children within their communities.
Dr. Faith Gordon joined the University of Westminster as a Lecturer in Criminology in September 2016. Previously, Faith taught at Queen's University Belfast and the University of Ulster. Faith was also a Research Fellow and Post-doctoral researcher working in the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice
Initiative on the ESRC funded Knowledge Exchange Project based on her PhD research entitled: Identifying and challenging the negative media representation of children and young people in Northern Ireland. Faith has also been a Research Assistant on a number of research projects including work for the
Hillsborough Independent Panel; research on ageing prisoners; research on prisoner's rights; research on children's rights.
Faith was appointed in January 2015 and is an active Trustee for Headliners UK. Faith is currently working on her first sole-authored monograph (Palgrave Macmillan, Socio-Legal Series) which is derived in primary research she conducted in Northern Ireland over the last decade. This research explored
the significance of media coverage of children and young people in a society experiencing transition from three decades of violent conflict. Faith is also currently working with former colleagues from Queen's University on a number of research projects, including on a joint research project in the area
of law and emotion and a research project on older victims of crime and crime clearance rates (commissioned by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland).