The news of inclusive education: a narrative analysis

Author/Creator ORCID




Towson University. Department of Mass Communication and Communication Studies


Citation of Original Publication

Dorries B, Haller B. The News of Inclusive Education: a narrative analysis. Disability & Society [serial online]. October 2001;16(6):871-891. Available from: SocINDEX with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed June 13, 2018.



This paper investigates a nationally publicized case in the debate over the best method of educating millions of children with severe disabilities. Using Fisher’s narrative paradigm, this paper analyses 4 years of the extensive media coverage of the legal battles of Mark Hartmann’s family. The 11-year-old’s parents took the Loudoun County, VA, Board of Education to court to reinstate their autistic son in a regular classroom. Much media attention focused on the story because it dramatized the issues concerning the national debate about inclusion. The paper provides a synopsis of the narratives about inclusive education within the news media that arose from their coverage of the Hartmann case. Through the press, competing interests told their stories to the public, hoping to win the moral high ground and persuade others of the ‘good reasons’ that support their understanding of the costs or bene fits of inclusion. Although the Hartmanns lost in court, this narrative analysis suggests that the family and its supporters provided more persuasive narrative themes in the news media’s court of public opinion, thus advancing the national inclusion movement.