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Browsing ScholarWorks@Towson by Type "conference papers"
(1997-11) Haller, Beth A.; Towson University. Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies
Even in the 1990s, little research has focused on how local
media can more often and more accurately cover the disability community and
disability issues. Some positive news coverage arose in the late 1980s
because of the disability community's growing status as a minority group
striving for equal civil rights. Other positive coverage reflected the
consumer model, in which equity in society for people with disabilities is
seen as good economic sense. A new negative image, however, includes the
business model, which depicts economic equity for people with disabilities as
costly to the American business community. Another issue is whether people
with disabilities are given a "voice" in the news media--are they speaking
for themselves? Mass media researchers should be looking for valid sources in
the news; they should continue to assess who is speaking for the disability
community in the news media. Communication research should continue to assess
why and how news media prop up "ableist" views within society. Research must
also assess journalists' attitudes about disability. The news media have
begun to successfully change some of their language about disability--they
are now likely to use "disabled" rather than "handicapped," or person with
AIDS rather than AIDS victim. The media's powerful place in the social
construction of people with disabilities may become a positive, rather than
negative, force, and the future research of communication scholars must be
focused on assessing this potential change.