Monday, September 23, 2013

Autism: Letters help shape perceptions in media

At, M. Kelter offers perceptive analysis of autism coverage in the media, arguing that a wider range of stories are conveyed through the “new media” of blogs and social posts, but are limited to fragmented audiences.
“I think the general public has no idea how much love, support exists in the autism community. I think when the general public hears the word ‘autism’ they associate it with hopelessness, because that’s the only story they hear. They have no idea that parents are blogging, writing, creating all sorts of vibrant stories about learning to connect with their child, learning to identify their triggers, support them ... learning to make their child’s life better.”
It’s true, of course, journalists need better sources when writing about autism. And they need to redirect the focus of the stories they allow to see print: no more excuses for child murder because the victim had a disability.

But what’s missing from Kelter’s analysis is recognition of writers’ ability to shape perceptions in the media by writing letters to the editor. When doing so, we enjoy the same “reach” across the same branded platforms, as the journalism that gave offense.

To begin with, check with your local newspaper for its submission guidelines. (Community television stations may also accept material and radio talk show hosts often welcome calls from the community.)

Most newspapers have an online presence so your letter has the potential to reach both online and print readerships. When drafting your letter, it especially helps if you tie your comments to a story that was published by that newspaper.

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