journalism

A new wheelchair will help this University of Florida student journalist do stand-ups — literally

Drew Dees in front of a camera.
University of Florida student journalist Drew Dees works on a video project with UF’s creative services team. (Photo courtesy Drew Dees)

By: , Poynter

Student journalist Drew Dees is kind but firm when he interviews people for his Florida college TV station.

Please stand up, he instructs them. Don’t crouch down in front of me. I’m not a baby.

He understands that people might not be used to seeing a journalist in a wheelchair — he never saw any on TV when he was growing up — but he demands to be treated the same as any other reporter.

“One of the big barriers in this career field is getting people to … take you seriously,” he said.

A 24-year-old junior at the University of Florida, Dees said he’s had overwhelming support from his family and professors as he pursues a degree in broadcast journalism. His dream of being an on-air reporter and anchor feels even more real now that his insurance company has agreed to provide him with a new $50,000 wheelchair. The Permobil F5 Corpus VS chair will allow him to move from a sitting position to standing with the touch of a button.

“It’s just going to make such a world of difference for me,” he said. “Just to be able to stand up and be able to talk to people on eye level and not have to look up at someone; that’s just the most amazing feeling to me.”

The chair will also allow him to do what’s known in TV news as a standup, where a reporter shares information on camera while standing or walking.

“It’s going to allow me to be more creative, to have more of that demonstrative standup that we look for instead of just being a talking head,” he said.

Dees got a test run of the new chair during a recent fitting to make sure it’s properly adjusted to his body. The chair won’t be ready for several months, but Dees was so excited that he posted a picture on social media of him using the chair to stand up. On a whim, he shared that photo and story in a journalism Facebook group that has about 15,000 members.

Read the full article here:https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2019/a-new-wheelchair-will-help-this-university-of-florida-student-journalist-do-stand-ups-literally/

Apple’s new emoji include disability-related symbols. I’m not thrilled.

Apple emojis
(Stock)

On Monday, as part of its IOS 13.2 release, Apple released 398 new emoji, including a sloth, a flamingo, buttered waffles — and several disability-related symbols, including images of people with different skin tones in wheelchairs, a prosthetic leg, a blind person with a probing cane, a service dog and a hearing aid.

Disability advocates are cheering. I’m not thrilled.

As both the mother of a child with a disability and a journalist who covers disability-related issues, I have trained myself to look past labels to consider individuals. Just as the blue-and-white international “handicapped” symbol falls far short of including all people with disabilities, so does this handful of emoji.

Read Amy Silverman’s full piece for The Washington Post, Apple’s new emoji include disability-related symbols. I’m not thrilled.

“Disability Angle” Helps Reporters Discover Better Stories

Media coverage of people with disabilities is regularly criticized as being too shallow, too stereotypical and too rare.

The National Center on Disability and Journalism is trying to change that with a new series of posts for journalists that offer story ideas and story angles for a wide range of disability coverage.

The series was created by Susan LoTempio, a journalist with a long career writing about, lecturing on and living with disability. She was an editor at The Buffalo News, and wrote a popular “Diversity at Work” column for the Poynter Institute that focused on disability. She is now a member of the NCDJ Advisory Board.

Her new project consists of a series of short posts that will be offered regularly through social media and archived on the NCDJ website. The posts will cover topics from education and health to politics, housing and transportation, all designed to help reporters do a better job of covering this important and growing segment of the country.

Follow us on Twitter @ASUNCDJ or on Facebook.

 

Susan LoTempio
Susan LoTempio, NCDJ Advisory Board Member

How to Accurately and Inclusively Cover Mass Shootings

The image depicts a paper gun range shooting target with several bullet holes. (Image: Wikimedia)
The image depicts a paper gun range shooting target with several bullet holes. (Image: Wikimedia)

In response to the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has released a guide to help journalists “accurately and inclusively cover mass shootings.”

A full section of the NAHJ guide is dedicated to helping journalists cover gun violence without stigmatizing mental illness, or implying that a shooter’s mental illness caused or contributed to the violence. Among other recommendations, the NAHJ guide tells journalists that it is “inexcusable to mention the mental health issues the alleged killer might have been dealing with in an attempt to dismantle the reasoning behind this crime against humanity.” Additionally, the guide acknowledges that traumatic stories like the shooting in El Paso can be painful to cover and reminds reporters that it is always okay to reach out for help.

Click here to access How to Accurately and Inclusively Cover Mass Shootings on the NAHJ website.

NCDJ Releases Disability Language Style Guide in Spanish

NCDJ NCDJ, National Center on Disability and Journalism, Disability Language Style Guide, Spanish
NCDJ Releases Disability Language Style Guide in Spanish

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/.

2018 Contest Winners

2018 Winners

Ruderman Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability

 

 FIRST PLACE

“Abused and Betrayed”

National Public Radio

Joseph Shapiro, Robert Little, Meg Anderson

Read story HERE

Overview: This NPR series examines the hidden epidemic of people with intellectual disabilities being sexually assaulted. The NPR Investigations Team spent more than a year sifting through court records and interviewing victims and family members. They found that crimes against people with intellectual disabilities often go unrecognized, unprosecuted and unpunished, leaving the abuser free to abuse again. The investigation also included a first-ever analysis of federal crime data and tracked what states are doing about the issue.

 

SECOND PLACE          

“Pain and Profit”

Dallas Morning News

David McSwane, Andrew Chavez David

Read story HERE  

Overview: “Pain and profit” documents the way Texas treats fragile people who rely on Medicaid, the government insurance program for the poor and disabled. With the help of whistleblowers and more than 160 public records requests, the series exposed the systemic denials of care and other abuses by companies paid to administer Medicaid. The Texas legislature held hearings on the findings and began considering new legislation to address the problems. 

 

THIRD PLACE

“Stuck Kids”

ProPublica Illinois

Read story HERE  

Overview: Duaa Eldeib, Sandhya Kambhampati, and Vignesh Ramachandran

The “Stuck Kids” investigation reveals that between 2015 and 2017, 21 percent of the time children spent in psychiatric hospitals in Illinois was not medically necessary. The children remained confined to hospitals because the state failed to find appropriate placements for them. Some children were stuck in psychiatric hospitals for months, despite evidence that unnecessarily prolonged hospital stays can have detrimental effects on children in terms of both their emotional well-being and their behavior.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

“Aftereffect”

WNYC, New York public radio

Audrey Quinn, Aneri Pattani, Phoebe Wang

Listen HERE

Overview: “Aftereffect” is an eight-episode podcast that takes listeners inside the life of Arnaldo Rios Soto, a 26-year-old, non-speaking man with autism whose life was upended in 2016 when someone mistook a silver toy truck in his hand for a gun. Police arrived and ended up shooting and severely wounded Arnaldo’s aide, which set off a sequence of events that put Arnaldo’s life in a downward spiral.

 

OTHER NOTABLE ENTRIES

Presented in alphabetical order by title of entry

“Alive Inside”

Mike Hixenbaugh, Houston Chronicle

December 5, 2017

Read HERE

Overview: Of the thousands of severely brain-injured people who are discharged to nursing homes or acute care hospitals in the U.S. each year, 40 percent are estimated to be covertly aware, or in the “minimally conscious state.” They drift between consciousness and brain death, trapped inside themselves and unable to communicate. This story takes a personal look at just one of the many people who are “alive inside,” despite appearing to be in a vegetative state.

 

“Schools Aren’t Preparing Students With Disabilities for Active Shooter Scenarios”

Jordan Davidson, The Mighty

March 14, 2018

Read HERE

Overview: There were more than 100 school shootings between Sandy Hook in 2012 and Parkland in early 2018, but there’s still no federal mandate for schools to hold active shooter drills. That means it’s up to individual schools to decide if — and how — to prepare students. As this article explores, modifications for students with disabilities are rarely included in these trainings.

 

2018 Winners

Katherine Schneider Medal

 

FIRST PLACE

“Nowhere to Go”

Kaiser Health News

Christina Jewett

Read story HERE

Overview: “Nowhere to Go” shows how teenagers and young adults with autism are spending weeks or even months in hospitals, where they are sedated, restrained or confined to mesh-tented beds. These young people are taken to hospitals when families can’t get help from community social services and other programs; they end up calling 911, and those calls often result in long and agonizing hospital stays for their loved ones.

 

SECOND PLACE

“Back of the Class”

KING Television in Seattle, Washington

Susannah Frame, Taylor Mirfendereski, Ryan Coe

Watch HERE

Overview: “Back of the Class” documents how thousands of children in the state of Washington are segregated in public schools, in violation of federal and state laws and despite research that shows children with disabilities made better progress in integrated classrooms. Children with disabilities are isolated from other students in classroom settings and even in the lunchroom, often as a way to save money, the report concludes, and Washington State has one of the worst records in the country in serving such children.

 

 THIRD PLACE

“Trapped” Better Government Association and WBEZ Chicago Public Media

Alejandra Cancino, Better Government Association

Odette Yousef, WBEZ Chicago Public Media

Read story HERE  

Overview: “Trapped” exposes unsafe elevators, shoddy record keeping and failed oversight at the Chicago Housing Authority, where many elderly tenants live, as the series put it, “in fear of their own buildings.” Hundreds of these residents, for whom stairs are not an option, end up trapped inside unsafe elevators in high-rise apartment buildings owned by the housing authority. The problems continue despite repeated citations for safety violations, flunked safety inspections and hundreds of panicked calls to 911. The series prompted the housing authority to begin a $25 million project to modernize and replace elevators.

 

HONORABLE MENTION

“Flying the Unfriendly Skies”

New Mobility Magazine

Kenny Salvini

Read story HERE 

Overview: “Flying the Unfriendly Skies” relates how, in the course of a single year, the author’s  wheelchair was damaged two times by two different airlines.“ Once is a case of bad luck. Twice is the universe revealing your path. Having two wheelchairs destroyed by two different airlines in the span of a year has a way of thrusting you into a bit of reluctant advocacy with a lot of questions that need answers,” Salvini writes. He set out to find the answers and discovered a history of failed airline policies and a seeming indifference that affects thousands of others who live with disabilities.

 

NOTABLE ENTRY

“Out of Options”

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

April 23, 2018

Watch HERE

Overview: This video documentary follows two Texas families as they begin their journey to pursuing an alternative form of medical treatment for children with epilepsy: cannabis oil, or CBD oil. Despite the state’s passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, which legalized a certain type of CBD oil for epilepsy patients who haven’t responded to federally-approved medication, families still face challenges with getting the treatment. 

4 key tips for reporting on and writing about people with disabilities

 

Image shows a hand holding onto the rim of a wheelchair.
(Photo: Pixabay ) “4 key tips for reporting on and writing about people with disabilities,” written by Chloe Reichel, published by Journalist’s Resource on June 26. Image: hand holding onto the rim of a wheelchair.

More than 1 in 4 people living in the United States has a mental or physical disability, according to a 2018 report from the Census Bureau, which collected the data in 2014.

Media reports, however, hardly reflect the fact that 27.2% — or 85.3 million people — nationwide are living with disabilities. Stories about people with disabilities often fall into two broad categories, says Kristin Gilger, who is director of the National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ) and the associate dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

The first category is what Gilger calls “inspiration porn” — stories about people with disabilities throwing the winning pass for the high school football team or being named prom queen, for example. “It’s well-intentioned, but those stories also can be very exploitative and they are very limited in really getting to the heart of how people live and what they think and how they’re affected by what’s going on in our civic life,” she says.

The second category consists of crime stories, which sometimes mention mental illness — a narrow slice of the kind of coverage the subject deserves. “We still have some work to do in the range and sophistication of [mental illness] coverage,” Gilger says.

Gilger says the lack of disability coverage might stem from a lack of representation in newsrooms. “We haven’t done a very good job of hiring people particularly with physical disabilities, who might need some kind of accommodation in the workplace — people who use wheelchairs, for example, or have hearing or vision limitations or any number of other things,” Gilger notes. “If you don’t have those people in your newsroom, you’re not likely to do a very good job of understanding and pursuing stories that are relevant to those populations … If you’re not comfortable with the coverage area, you just don’t know enough about it, it’s not likely that you’re going to pursue it.”

Amy Silverman, a journalist and NCDJ board member who, in 2018, updated the center’s Disability Language Style Guide, echoes Gilger’s sentiment. “I think that disability is really intimidating to people,” she says.  “First of all, because they don’t want to say the wrong thing. And second, because it’s something uncomfortable to think about.”

To help journalists improve their coverage of people with disabilities, we’re sharing four key tips from Gilger and Silverman.

Read the article by  here.

 

Washington Post food critic to add accessibility to restaurant reviews

A screenshot of "Why I will start including accessibility information in my restaurant reviews," Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's article that was published on May 22.
“Why I will start including accessibility information in my restaurant reviews,” the article by Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema that was published on May 22. Image: a screenshot of Sietsema’s article, which depicts an illustration of a man in a wheelchair superimposed over an architectural blueprint.

Tom Sietsema, a well-known food critic for the Washington Post, has announced that he will add accessibility information to his restaurant reviews. His decision, as Sietsema explains in a post published earlier this week, was prompted by feedback he’s received from readers, who frequently contact Sietsema to ask about restaurants’ accommodations for people who use wheelchairs, or people who are blind. Sietsema said he initially had concerns about remaining under-the-radar as a restaurant critic “while measuring doorways with a tape measure.” But, upon considering that more than 70,000 Washingtonians live with a disability, Sietsema realized the importance of his obligation to serve his audience.

Click here to read Sietsema’s announcement in the Washington Post.

Columbia Journalism Review highlights NCDJ disability language style guide

a screen shot of the article's headline on CJR.org.
“How some words don’t stand the test of time,” an article recently published in the Columbia Journalism Review, highlights the NCDJ disability language style guide. Image: a screen shot of the article’s headline on CJR.org.

Thanks for the shout out, Columbia Journalism Review! A recent CJR article about disability terminology mentions our disability language style guide as a resource for journalists and writers who cover disability issues. Click here to read the CJR article online.

UPenn will offer new course on writing about mental health

Photo of Stephen Fried
Photo of Stephen Fried behind a podium, discussing his new book “Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father.” (Image: Wikipedia)

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 courses of 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.

Read more about Fried’s new class at UPenn here.