Do you have a disability and are learning how to navigate a career in visual journalism? Do you have questions about disability coverage but are unsure how to ask? In partnership with the National Center on Disability and Journalism, NPPA hosted "Disability in the Newsroom" on Oct. 6, 2021, on Zoom.
The session focused on how disabilities can affect those seeking to get ahead in the visual journalism industry, how to navigate careers with disabilities and how to improve media coverage of individuals with disabilities.
The session was moderated by Kristin Gilger, director of the NCDJ and Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
Watch the recorded event on our YouTube page.
For journalists with disabilities:
- Find an ally/advocate with whom you can honestly share your experiences.
- Advocate for yourself in the workplace. Propose solutions that will make the most of your abilities.
- Disclose your disability to your employer if you’re comfortable doing so.
- Your experiences as an individual with a disability can often be an advantage. They may, for example, help you relate to or be trusted by individuals in difficult circumstances or those who have been overlooked.
- Speak up if you feel like you’re being pigeonholed.
- Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try new things.
For all reporters and photographers:
- Include the voices and perspectives of people with disabilities in your reporting, even when the story is not specifically about disability.
- Show people with disabilities as full human beings; refrain from characterizing them only by their disabilities. This advice applies to both words and visuals.
- Refer to a person’s disability only when it’s relevant to the story.
- Ask sources if they self-identify as having a disability and ask how they would like their disability to be described.
- Use neutral, accurate language. For help, refer to the NCDJ style guide.
For media employers:
- Include disability in your discussions about diversity in news coverage.
- Hire people with disabilities, recognizing that you can’t adequately cover this large and important community without representation in your newsroom.
- Track your coverage of disability and sourcing in the same way that you track coverage of other underrepresented groups.
- Offer training to your employees on covering disability.
- Encourage use of the NCDJ style guide in your newsroom.
- Consider a disability beat but make everyone in the newsroom responsible for including disability in their journalism.
- Review your job postings to ensure that you aren’t precluding someone with a disability who is capable of doing the job from being considered.
- Don’t assume that accommodations for a disabled employee will negatively affect the workplace or the work product. In fact, they can do the opposite.
Here is a downloadable PDF of the "Takeaways" from the session
Kristin Gilger will moderate the webinar. Kristin is Reynolds Professor in Business Journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She also is the director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism at the Cronkite School. She is the co-author of the book, “There’s No Crying in Newsrooms: What Women Have Learned About What it Takes to Lead.” Gilger has been an editor at newspapers that include the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and The Arizona Republic.
Yomi S. Wrong is a former reporter who has covered a number of beats — local government, business, breaking news, criminal courts and travel — for a variety of California dailies, including the Orange County Register, the Salinas Californian, the San Jose Mercury News and Los Angeles Times. Born with a congenital disability, Yomi has always used a wheelchair for mobility. She currently works in the healthcare sector and, occasionally, as a freelance writer.
Amanda Morris is the first disability reporting fellow at The New York Times. She previously reported for The Arizona Republic in Phoenix and covered politics for The Associated Press. As someone with a hearing loss, she grew up regularly using American Sign Language with her two deaf parents.
David Albritton is senior photojournalist at CNN with over 30 years of experience in the news industry. In 1995, while covering the Balkan War for CNN in Sarajevo, he sustained life-threatening injuries when a 500-pound bomb blew up at the television center.
Linda Tirado is a freelance photojournalist who also is a book author and has written for The Guardian and The Daily Beast. She was shot in the face last year while covering the civil unrest that followed the police killing of George Floyd, leaving her partially blind.
Evan Halpop, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he is majoring in journalism with an emphasis in broadcast, print and web. He lives with a form of autism and advocates for inclusion for all.
Bruce Thorson is an associate professor at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He previously spent 25 years in newspaper photojournalism. As a young man, he sustained permanent physical injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Ari Golub is staff photographer and visual storyteller for George Washington University’s student-run, independent paper, The GW Hatchet, and the President of GW’s Disabled Students Collective. He is an individual with tourette's syndrome.
Disability in the Newsroom is part of a series of “continuing the conversation” events that NPPA is co-hosting with ally organizations. Recent panels included NABJ, NLGJA and AAJA.