Media portrayals of teen pregnancy walk a fine line, says York prof

Readers hit on a very fine line in the teen-pregnancy debate, wrote Newsweek online in a July 23 story on reactions to a cover story featuring Jamie Lynn Spears in OK! magazine: how do you accurately convey the difficulties and disadvantages of teen parenting while not, at the same time, shunning the 400,000 American teens who, for the past three decades, have given birth every year?

Experts interviewed by Newsweek quickly admit that there’s no easy answer. "Part of me thinks it’s better to normalize [teen pregnancy] because it makes it easier for those moms to be more accepted," says Professor Andrea O’Reilly, founder and director of the Association for Research on Mothering at York University in Toronto. "But then at the same time you worry you might be romanticizing teen pregnancy, setting up a girl for something she’s not ready for. I think that’s a fine line that we can’t get rid of."

O’Reilly ideally would like to see more honest portrayals of teen parents in the media. When asked specifically about the Jamie Lynn Spears cover, she says, yes, she would keep the magazine out there. "I still think it’s moving us in the right direction; we’re talking about it," O’Reilly explains. "I know it makes everything look easy, and that’s a problem, but nonetheless people are talking about it so that can’t be a bad thing."

York alumna will report on Games in Beijing

Shan Qiao (BA ’04) is a senior reporter and photographer for the Toronto-based, Chinese-language Today Daily News, wrote Sun Media Aug. 6 in a story about its team of journalists covering the Beijing Olympics. The group includes the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Calgary Sun and London Free Press. Born in China, and currently living in Toronto, she will bring to readers a unique perspective through a daily glimpse of life in Beijing behind the scenes during the course of the Games, Sun Media said.

On air

  • Michael Copeland, professor emeritus in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the history and culture of the Uighurs of China, on CBC Radio’s “Radio Active” Aug. 5.