by Mojo Mathers
As someone with a disability who has to deal with the media on a regular basis, I found the latest report by the Convention Coalition Monitoring Group very interesting. The time period the report covered was 2012.
Note: The full report is available by clicking here:
It looks at how the media in New Zealand portrays disabled people and disability issues and includes an in-depth analysis of media coverage of both the Paralympics games and of the funding issue for electronic notetakers for me
The report is important because media coverage of disability issues can be a powerful tool for advocating for the rights of disabled people and influencing public attitudes towards disability in general.
There were several key findings. On the positive side, the report found that the NZ media does well in covering a wide breadth of disability issues, assisting New Zealanders to get a better understanding of some of the key issues facing their fellow disabled citizens.
However there was significant frustration expressed by participants that some journalists still demonstrated a general lack of disability awareness, failing to ensure that disabled people voices were directly represented in mainstream stories and using negative language in stories about disability issues. Analysis of the stories showed that disabled people are often portrayed as either pitiful victims or super-beings.
A major recommendation was for media organisations to develop clear policies around reporting disability issues, provide better disability training to all staff, and to employ more disabled people within all levels of their organisations.
I strongly endorse all of these recommendations.