The Place of News Media Analysis within Canadian Disability Studies

Beth Haller, Marcia Rioux, Mihaela Dinca-Panaitescu, Andrew Laing, Jessica Vostermans, Paula Hearn


This paper advocates for increased news media analysis within the disability studies field. Using a media research project about Canadian news media coverage of disability, this paper explores the shifting nature of recent disability coverage within Canadian newspapers between 2009 and 2010. As a group of researchers in Canada and the USA, who have undertaken numerous content analyses of news media representations of disability, we argue that a paradigm shift is taking place in which some traditional news media representations of people with disabilities are now being framed through a disability rights lens. This paper’s analysis is based on data collected by the Toronto-based Disability Rights Promotion International (DRPI). The project investigates Canadian news coverage of disability issues through Joseph Gusfield’s theory of societal “ownership” of a public problem, which in this case means discrimination against and societal barriers for people with disabilities become identified problems that need to be solved within Canadian society.


News coverage, disability, Canada, media studies, disability rights

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The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies is Published by the Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l'Incapacité, and is hosted and supported by the University of Waterloo.

ISSN 1929-9192 Canadian Journal of Disability Studies (Online)