The aim of Little People UK (LPUK) Media Team is to work with print and broadcasting media to promote positive images of dwarfism and to emphasise the very normal lives of people with dwarfism.
In order to avoid any problems or misunderstandings, we have the following guidelines to help provide practical advice when operating in the media as an identifiable part of LPUK.
1. Little People UK code of conduct
- The official spokespersons for LPUK are the Chair and Vice Chair, together with Warwick Davis, President of LPUK. Should you need to speak to someone, these are the representatives to contact.
- When discussing LPUK or related matters in the media (including internet, print or radio) you must identify yourself using your full name and where relevant, your role within LPUK.
- If you make a decision to offer your views, it must be made clear that you are speaking for yourself and not for LPUK as a group. You can use a disclaimer such as “the postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent the position, strategy or opinions of Little People UK”
- Please always write in the first person and consider that even anonymous postings on any media forum can be traced back to you or LPUK.
- You are personally responsible for the content you publish on any form of user-generated media. Remember that everything you publish will be available for many years to come. Please use common sense.
- As soon as you act on behalf of LPUK by distributing information, you are upholding the LPUK image. Please act responsibly. If in doubt, please contact the Chair or Vice Chair.
2. Contact from Production Companies
- The LPUK committee and its members may receive requests from media organisations, varying from asking for their view on a particular event or topical issue to looking for people to be interviewed for an article or documentary. The time that LPUK is given to respond to these enquiries varies considerably; sometimes the lead-time is a few months and at other time the committee has only 24 hours to respond. All such enquiries will, in the first instance, be directed to the Chair or Vice Chair.
- Various media companies regularly contact us with requests for participation in forthcoming programmes; some of these will present excellent opportunities for positive representation of people with dwarfism. The Media Team (and in some cases, the Committee) will choose carefully which projects to promote to our members. If members choose to be involved, we will offer them advice and support as well as making contact with others who have worked on similar projects, who can give advice on how to work with production companies and film crews.
- When production companies contact us we should look at it on a case-by-case basis, as a documentary is very different from a reality game show or a quiz show. We must also recognize work that aligns with our principles and aims of positive media representation of little people.
- The Committee must protect LPUK members’ confidentiality in the media, therefore requests for interviewing or photographing a member must always come through the Media Team.
- Members should not represent LPUK to the media. If members are contacted directly regarding Warwick or any other recognizable members of LPUK, our policy is that they must refer the journalist through the Media Team.
- Permission to film will not be granted until the Media Team is satisfied that appropriate liability insurance is in place and a filming agreement has been signed.
- Decisions regarding media policy should be made by a committee quorum.
3. Media Portrayals
- Our membership includes actors with considerable experience in all areas of the media and will facilitate contact for people to seeking advice in this area.
- While we remain reluctant to pass negative comment that might adversely affect an actor’s career or their employment prospects, we appreciate that some roles may present people with dwarfism in a negative light or as figures of fun. We understand that this may contribute to a general acceptance of abusive or bullying behavior towards people with dwarfism, which clearly we will never endorse or tolerate.
- However, LPUK will never criticize an actor for doing their job. We are not an agency or a union and we do not want to create an atmosphere where actors feel they are not welcome in LPUK or that they must seek our approval before taking a role; an actor should be free to make their own career choices.
- We do not seek an editorial role in every TV production, film or advert; however we believe that through continuous positive dialogue with production companies we can create a long-term positive change in the representation of dwarfism in all forms of media.
- There will be times where we need to contact a production company with concerns over their output and to explain our areas of concern. This contact should be through our Media Team.
- In the first instance we should be calm, reasoned, proportionate and professional.
- If this approach proves unsuccessful we will adopt a more robust approach and ultimately we should be prepared to coordinate a campaign or consider legal action.
- We will provide a section on our website where our correspondence with media companies is published for our membership to see what action we are taking on their behalf and why.
4. Conflict of interest
- As the Media Team aims to be representative of the whole of the LPUK membership, it may be that a member(s) of the Media Team are active within the entertainment industry. Under these circumstances LPUK follow these guidelines:
a. If the LPUK Media Team is approached with a proposal that may benefit any one of its members, including but not limited to financial interest, this member must declare this to the Media Team and also the Chair of LPUK.
b. In this instance this person would absent themself from any discussion around the proposal.
c. Any Media Team member absenting themself from any discussions in accordance with this must not vote or be counted as part of the quorum in any decision of the Media Team/Charity trustees on the matter.
d. If they do not declare this potential conflict of interest and subsequently benefits (included but not limited to financial benefit) they will be asked to step down from the LPUK Media Team.
5. Use of the “M” word
- The word ‘midget’ is in common usage amongst the general population, the vast majority of whom are completely unaware of its negative and offensive connotations to many with dwarfism. There will be occasions where it may be broadcast without the people involved, knowing that they have caused offence; there may even be occasions when a television storyline requires its use. Therefore we should always take context and intention into account when considering our response.
- A friendly, unknowing use should be met with a polite correction and should be a positive, learning experience regarding short stature/dwarfism. However, those who use it in a deliberate offensive way should always be challenged.
Little People UK is looking to work together in a positive direction for all.
This policy was adopted:
Date: August 2019 Next Review Date: August 2020