Yesterday saw many newspapers and broadcasters reporting on two conflicting stories about the state of the UK economy.
The first was about house prices rising to near pre-financial crisis levels, while the second looked at the rising cost of living and the fall in high street shopping in January. One story indicates that things might be improving in the economy, the other takes exactly the opposite approach.
What is clear from all of the economic coverage that we’ve seen in the last few years is that, as the screenwriter William Goldman once said about Hollywood, “Nobody knows anything.” The economic problems we’re living through are a complex mess on a global scale and it is anyone’s guess as to how things will develop.
Unfortunately, the analysis of these problems in the media is also unclear and there is very little attention given to the impact these economic issues have on young people, except for when the specific focus of a story is on a subject such as youth unemployment figures.
There are some journalists who see the bigger picture, such as the BBC’s Paul Mason, who last summer wrote this excellent article about the problems facing graduates, but it is rare to see any reference to how young people are affected in most mainstream news reports. Reports will point out how an issue affects middle-income households, or the very poor or very rich, but rarely do they include information on how young people will fare in the light of new statistics.
It may be that news editors think that young people aren’t watching, so there is no point in mentioning their situation, but the problems facing young adults today are the problems facing all of society tomorrow. If we don’t find ways to improve their chances of finding work, of enabling them to move out of the parental home, of ensuring that their education gives them the skills and knowledge that they need to survive outside of education, then we will all be paying the price of that failure.