The Place of News Media Analysis within Canadian Disability Studies

  • Beth Haller Towson University
  • Marcia Rioux York University
  • Mihaela Dinca-Panaitescu DRPI Canada, York University
  • Andrew Laing Cormex Research
  • Jessica Vostermans York University
  • Paula Hearn York University
Keywords: News coverage, disability, Canada, media studies, disability rights


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.