Literature Review: Journalism and Disability from a Canadian Perspective

Chelsea Jones


Using a dual lens of disability theory and journalism, this literature review compacts a wide range of sources to investigate the reasons for the nature of journalistic representations of disability in Canadian media, and the subsequent interpretations of these by disability scholars and advocates. Through five key themes – attitudes, representation, language, framing, and a broader category of gate-keeping, agenda setting and editorial controls -- this review recognizes longstanding and persisting gaps between journalists’ understanding of disability and disability advocates’ understanding of journalism, as well as a jarring lack of Canadian research to these ends. Encouraging a shift from dialogue about disability and journalism to a dialogue between players in both fields, this paper calls for further Canadian-based research at a time when journalistic stories are shaped by more than journalists’ attitudes towards disability, and disability representation exists stereotypically or out of synch with journalistic principles of fairness and accuracy.


Journalism; disability; news; radio; Canadian media; media representations; media framing; communication; disability stereotypes; attitudes toward disability

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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)