History of the NCDJ

The National Center on Disability and Journalism was founded by freelance photographer Suzanne Levine in 1998 as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how the news media can better cover people with disabilities.

Levine worked with an advisory group of journalists, disability activists and journalism educators from the San Francisco area, doing presentations and developing materials for journalists and classroom presentations for journalism educators.

In 2000 the center’s named was changed to the National Center on Disability and Journalism to better reflect the organizations focus on journalism as opposed to advocacy. The center was housed at San Francisco State University from 2000 to 2002 when it moved to an office on Market Street in San Francisco.

In 2004 the center moved again, this time across the country to Boston. The organization’s board eventually decided to seek an affiliation with a university journalism program, and in 2008, the center was relocated to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

Over the years, the center has been supported by a wide variety of private individuals and organizations who have lent their advice, help and financial support and served on the center’s board of directors. San Francisco State University Professor Michelle Wolf served on the board of directors as president. Early advisory board members included independent journalist Sally Lehrman, San Francisco State University Professor Austin Long-Scott and medical writer Sherri Boschert.

The center was permanently established at the Cronkite School in 2008. It has an office in the new, state-of-the-art Cronkite building in downtown Phoenix and a graduate student assigned to assist with the center each semester. The center is overseen by Assistant Dean Kristin Gilger.

The center’s goal is to become the authoritative, objective resource for journalists covering people with disabilities and to be the place where such work is discussed and commented on.

Cronkite student Annie Woods has more on the history of the NCDJ.