Saturday, January 12, 2013

Daniel J. Vance and I discuss media portrayals of people with disabilities

Drawing: Daniel J. Vance
Daniel J. Vance
In his self-syndicated column this week, Disabilities author Daniel J. Vance profiles me for a second time as an editor on the autism spectrum.

The focus of our discussion: media portrayals of people with disabilities as occured in coverage of the Newtown, Conn. shootings.

As a woman on the autism spectrum as well as a professional editor, one area of particular concern to me is media portrayals of people with disabilities as they relate to efforts to diversify newsrooms.

I believe the Newtown, Conn. shootings and the murder of George Hodgins would have been covered differently in newsrooms with a reporter or editor on the spectrum.

Consider also the blanket condemnation of people with autism by Joe Scarborough of MSNBC when referring to the Aurora, Colo. theater shooting. These incidents underscore a need for diversity initiatives in journalism to include disability communities.

During our conversation, one area that Vance focused upon was the phrase, “suffered from,” to describe the shooter possessing a disability. For myself, I consider the effect of language used to describe people with disabilities. I use professional standards when editing to promote respectful portrayals.

Our conversation was an interesting one and I think readers will find Vance’s account of it enlightening. Read it at

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