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Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training
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How editors and journalists can produce better and fairer reporting on people with disability

Partnerships between advocacy groups and the mainstream media are a hallmark of the rise of Advocacy Journalism as a conduit for meaningful social change. And some of the most prominent collaborations seeking to facilitate self-representation for minorities have involved people with disability (PWD). However, as Shawn Burns reports, there's still much work for editors and journalists to do in this area.

While some online entities like the BBC's Ouch!, for example, have successfully embedded disability-focused and produced content within mainstream outlets, others have struggled. In Australia, PWD have launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish a new website to replace RampUp, a site formerly run and funded by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) but now mothballed as a cost-cutting measure. RampUp was self-described as " ... the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's website featuring news, discussion, debate and humour for everyone in Australia's disability communities."

Dr George Taleporos is the driving force behind the campaign. "This project is designed to ensure that the important perspectives of people with disabilities and our families are heard and to make real the disability rights motto of ‘Nothing About Us, Without Us'," he said.

Dr Taleporos, and other advocacy journalists working in the disability media space, are driven by a desire to redress what they view as problematic news agendas and public discourse. In their view, despite the considerable consumer power of PWD and long-established media guidelines on disability, mainstream news media remains inclined to follow the well-trodden path of stereotypical representation of people with disability and disability issues.

The remainder of the article covers: Disability & Media History, Time to change our reporting practices and 10 Tips for journalists and editors on representing disability and can be read here'

About the author: Shawn Burns is a journalism lecturer and PhD candidate at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He researches the representation of people with disability in news media, and diversity and experiential learning in journalism pedagogy.

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Shawn Burns