Disability Center comes to Cronkite School
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is the new home for the National Center on Disability & Journalism.
The center was launched in 1998 in San Francisco as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how the news media cover people with disabilities. In 2000, the center’s name was changed to the National Center on Disability & Journalism, and it operated for a time out of Boston. In 2008, the center’s board decided to seek an affiliation with a university journalism program.
Gilger says the news media have lagged behind in coverage of disabilities.
“The mainstream press frequently under-covers this segment of the population or the coverage is inaccurate or incomplete,” Gilger says. “We hope to help reporters do a better job, not because we advocate a particular point of view but because we are concerned about the journalistic principles of accuracy, fairness and diversity in news coverage.”
For example, the center offers advice to reporters on how to approach an interview with a person who has a disability and suggests when it’s appropriate to use the terms “handicapped” or “disabled.”
Geller, who also is the lead writer for an NCDJ blog on disability issues, said he hopes the center will become “the starting point for journalists working on stories about people with disabilities and a place where journalists will share what they do and how they can improve their storytelling abilities.”
A national advisory board of journalists and disability experts help lead the center. The newly named board members are:
• Jennifer LaFleur, director of computer-assisted reporting for ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization that produces journalism in the public interest;
• Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism at the Cronkite School and a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter;
• Suzanne Robitaille, founder and editor-in-chief of Abledbody.com, a consumer Web site that covers disability news and assistive technology;
• Nan Connolly, former business editor with Knight Ridder who teaches news reporting at the Nicholson School of Communication, University of Central Florida;
• Greg Smith, book author and host and producer of the nationally syndicated radio program “On A Roll – Talk Radio on Life & Disability.”