Persons with disabilities frequently have been portrayed by the media in negative, dramatic and stereotypical ways that perpetuate the devaluing of individuals with distinct attributes. Thus, negative images presented in the media may result in low expectations and poor attitudes towards people with disabilities. In light of the occurrence of the International Year of Disabled Persons (1981) and the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983 to 1992), the purpose of this study was to describe patterns in the use of language and the characteristics of newspaper articles concerned with persons with disabilities over an eleven year period (1980 to 1990). Other factors reflecting the relative importance and awareness of the portrayal of people with disabilities in newspapers such as length of articles, inclusion of a photograph, and the article’s location within the newspaper also are described. Implications of the results for therapeutic recreation practitioners as well as journalists are discussed.
Author Adrienne Gilbert, Marilyn I. MacCauley, Bryan J.A. Smale
Volume Vol 31, No 2 (1997)