Elderly People and Persons with Disabilities Have a Limited Degree of Access to Information, the IJC Research Reveal

Elderly people and persons with disabilities have the lowest degree of access to media sources, according to the research published in mid-December by the Independent Journalism Center (IJC). The authors of the research also reveal an emphasized discrepancy between the use of and access to the three types of sources of information: the traditional ones, the new ones, and the community ones. However, in their opinion, access to media products in itself does not ensure that vulnerable and/or marginalized groups comprehend the information consumed by them, and does not protect them from manipulation, either.

According to the research, elderly people’s access to media sources is restricted by the lack of skills of using information technologies (phones or laptops), as well as by the fact that many of them, especially elderly people residing in the countryside, only have access to one or a few TV channels. As to persons with disabilities, in particular, those with visual impairments, their access to media sources is limited by the lack of sign language on many TV channels, as well as the lack of the required formats for this group of people on most web pages.

The research also demonstrates a sharp discrepancy between the use of and access to the main sources of information. Thus, the traditional ones, such as TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines, are more frequently used by people from the countryside than by those residing in the urban environment and, in particular, by elderly people and persons with disabilities. TV is a source of information for the elderly people (94%), persons with disabilities (82%), and women from the countryside (80%). These categories also show a greater trust in the traditional information sources.

On the other hand, news websites, social networks, and Telegram/Viber/Whatsapp groups are more often used by young people, urban population, and refugees. 80% of young people and women in the Republic of Moldova use social networks. Besides, 78% of the refugees get information from these sources, as they are more accessible, more useful, and faster. Podcasts, in particular, are listened to by young people (13%).

The authors of the research also examined another category of information sources, i.e. the community ones: colleagues, relatives, neighbors, family members, billboards, civil society organizations, and local public administration. Family members are one of the main sources of information for women from the countryside (46%) and people with disabilities (42%); urban young people (38.3%), refugees (37.9%), the Romani (36.5%), and elderly people (36.2%) mostly get information from their colleagues/relatives/neighbors. Although community sources are not very frequently used, respondents tend to trust them more.

At the same time, the research reveals that vulnerable and/or marginalized groups’ mere access to media products does not ensure that they comprehend the information they consume and does not protect them from manipulation, either, due to their insufficient level of media education and the large amount of fake news they are faced with.

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