5 responses to “Today In Journalism: Simply Overcome”

  1. Sharon Wachsler

    I’m so disappointed in this article; I couldn’t find “inspiring” or “inspirational” anywhere. [sigh] Sorry, just couldn’t resist.

    I was once the victim of one of these attacks of journalism. The headline was something like “Local woman tireless advocate for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” No joke.

  2. Ang

    You’d almost think that journalists get their entire picture of disabled people from other journalists’ stereotypical articles, though it’s implausible that no journalists actually know any disabled people personally. That makes me think that even when journalists DO have personal experience, there is something about our society’s attitude to disability that makes journalists scared to approach the subject in any other way.

    And that societal attitude is twofold: a lack of understanding of disabled people’s worth/diversity, combined with a guilt about feeling this way. It’s that guilt that, as you mention, makes euphemisms like ‘special’ so rigidly adhered to; that makes ‘disability’ so loaded. Where ‘disability’ is seen as intrinsically negative, and where society half-realizes there’s something wrong with this, but hasn’t really dealt with the subject, you’ll get stereotypes which society (including journalists) has convinced itself *are* the only “proper” way to approach us.

  3. Jesse the K

    The journalistic resources are there; the AP Style Book, for example, has deprecated “overcome” and “suffering from” and “wheelchair bound” since 1985. The Poynter Institute is a journalism school funded by a newspaper magnate (back when such still existed). Here are sixteen excellent columns by Poynter’s Susan LoTiempo on why and how not to use disabling language.

    One more reason to avoid “suffering from” language are the limits it imposes on the currently enabled. Moving from enabled to disabled is hard enough; stigmatizing the identity makes the trip even harder.e

  4. codeman38

    the AP Style Book, for example, has deprecated “overcome” and “suffering from” and “wheelchair bound” since 1985

    Wow. I knew it was discouraged by the AP, but I didn’t realize it was for that long. That makes this sort of thing particularly inexcusable.

    On a related note, a while back I managed to spot an article in The Guardian which violated of their own style guide, referring to someone “suffering from” a disability. I e-mailed them about it– and they actually replied and revised the wording of the article online!

  5. codeman38

    And that, of course, should be “which violated their own style guide,” not “which violated of.” How appropriate that I’d make a typo while referring to The Guardian. ^_~

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