Author, investigative journalist and Columbia J-school professor Stephen Fried will teach a new nonfiction writing course at University of Pennsylvania next semester. The course, which which will focus on writing about mental health and addiction, will be among the first undergraduate coursesof its kind in the U.S.
Students taking the spring class, titled “Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Writing about Mental Health and Addiction,” will hear from guest lecturers and will read and discuss writings about behavioral health.
After covering mental health as a journalist for years, Fried said he understands the importance of teaching students how to report on these topics in a nuanced way. Uninformed writing about this subject matter can perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness and seeking psychiatric help.
Fried is the author of numerous books about the prescription drug industry and mental illness. In 2015 he co-authored Patrick Kennedy’s memoir A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.
The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is now accepting entries for the 2019 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, the only journalism contest devoted exclusively to disability coverage.
Winners will receive a total of $17,000 in cash awards for first-, second- and third-place finishes in large media and small media categories. First-place winners in each category will be awarded $5,000 and are invited to the Cronkite School to give a public lecture in fall 2019. Second-place winners will receive $2,000; third-place winners receive $1,000; and honorable mention winners are awarded $500.
Journalists working in digital, print and broadcast media are eligible to enter. Entries are accepted from outside the U.S., although the work submitted must be in English. There is no entry fee.
Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019. The deadline to enter is Aug. 5, 2019. For more information and to enter, go to https://ncdj.org/contest/
Entries are judged by professional journalists and experts on disability issues. Past judges have included “PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff; Tony Coelho, former six-term U.S. congressman from California and the primary sponsor of the Americans With Disabilities Act; and former Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Leon Dash.
The 2018 winners included journalists from National Public Radio; Dallas Morning News; ProPublica; WNYC/New York Public Radio; Kaiser Health News; KING Television, Seattle; WBEZ Chicago Public Media; and New Mobility Magazine.
The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability is administered each year by the NCDJ. It is supported by a gift from Katherine Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Award, honoring the best children’s book each year that captures the disability experience for children and adolescents. That award is administered by the American Library Association.
Schneider, who has been blind since birth, said she hopes the award will help journalists improve their coverage of disability issues, moving beyond “inspirational” stories that don’t accurately represent the lives of people with disabilities.
“That kind of stuff is remarkable, but that’s not life as most of us live it,” Schneider said.
The NCDJ, which has been housed at the Cronkite School since 2008, offers resources and materials for journalists covering disability issues and topics, including a widely used disability language stylebook in both English and Spanish.
As journalist and NCDJ disability language style guide author Amy Silverman writes, “Disability journalism is a hot beat right now. But just because you’re covering disability doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.”
In a column for Phi Delta Kappan, a professional journal for teachers, Silverman discusses the challenges of reporting in schools and the ways in which journalists still far short when it comes to telling relevant and nuanced stories about people with disabilities. Read more of Amy Silverman’s column online.
Learn about the concept of “inspiration porn” in this video of journalist and comedian Stella Young’s talk at TEDxSydney:
The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has released its popular disability language style guide in Spanish.
The NCDJ, which is headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, provides guidance and support for journalists and communications professionals as they write about and report on disability issues and people with disabilities.
The style guide was recently updated to contain nearly 200 words and terms commonly used when referring to people with disabilities.
“The guide is used around the world but until now has been available primarily in English,” said NCDJ Executive Director Kristin Gilger, the senior associate dean at the Cronkite School. “The new Spanish-language version will make it possible for us to reach far more people with advice on disability-related language choices.”
She said the guide is not prescriptive. Instead, recommendations are intended to help communications professionals avoid offensive language while also being clear and accurate.
The Spanish translation of the guide was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which provides support for NCDJ programs and services.
In addition to the style guide, the center administers an annual contest recognizing the best reporting on disability in the country and provides training and resources for journalists, public relations professionals, educators and others concerned about how people with disability are portrayed.
Both the English and Spanish versions of the disability language style guide are available in downloadable format at https://ncdj.org/style-guide/.
Earlier this week the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) featured our disability language style guide on its Journalist’s Toolbox website, which highlights digital resources to help journalists in their reporting. As the SPJ site points out, a Spanish-language version of the NCDJ style guide is now available on NCDJ.org. Journalists can access the guide in both languages on our website.
On Wednesday, April 25 the National Center for Disability and Journalism partnered with Ability 360 and the Arizona Developmental Disabilities Planning Council to host a workshop titled “Improving Disability Communication” for local public information officers.
The goal of the workshop was to introduce public service employees to disability communication topics, styles and perspectives.
Activities included tutorials about disability language style and tips on making digital media accessible. Participants heard insightful testimonies from people with a variety of disabilities as well as local reporters who shape mass media stories.
Agency representatives at the workshop came from Department of Economic Security, Department of Transportation, State Parks and Trails, Department of Health Services and many others. A similar workshop is planned for September 21 at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix and host local journalists and public relations executives.
Judy Woodruff, anchor and managing editor of the PBS NewsHour, shares her thoughts about fair and accurate coverage of people living with disabilities and the important work being done by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University.
The death this week of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was mourned by millions of fans around the world. His passing also prompted several important conversations about how his disabilities should be discussed in the media, especially in the context of his remarkable professional achievements.