Literature Review: Journalism and Disability from a Canadian Perspective

  • Chelsea Jones Ryerson University
Keywords: Journalism, disability, news, radio, Canadian media, media representations, media framing, communication, disability stereotypes, attitudes toward disability

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Chelsea Jones, Ryerson University

Chelsea Temple Jones is an award-winning journalist and a first-year PhD Candidate in Ryerson University’s Communication and Culture Program. Her journalistic work focuses on stories about people with developmental disabilities across Canada and in Southeast Asia. She received her master’s degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University in 2010. Jones aims to focus her upcoming research on representations of people with developmental disabilities in the media, and she is beginning to study works authored by people with developmental disabilities. Her current research involves an upcoming analysis and compilation of writing by people with developmental disabilities. Jones lives in Toronto.