Friday, 23 September 2011
How the Papers Help Make Disability Hate Invisible
I've just been on a visit to my family in Durham and while I was up there the Northern Echo, the main regional daily, reported on a rise in hate crime statistics. I wanted to comment on the figures then, to compare and contrast the way that the Echo had treated race hate and disability hate crime, but I couldn't get online, so had to wait until I was back home and could look the two articles up on the net. That made things even more interesting, because instead of the two articles, one on race hate stats taking up the top quarter of page 5, and a tiny two paragraphs on disability hate stats buried on page 7, there was only a single article, still entitled 'Rise in Race Hate Incidents', but with disability given nearly 50% of the coverage and the quotes and background to show that the reporter had actually gone out and done a good job of it. Somewhere between his writing a good article, pointing out that even if race hate incidents are up 4%, disability hate crimes are up over 20%, and the paper going to press, someone in the Echo's editorial staff decided that disability hate crimes just weren't worthy of the same degree of coverage, chopped them out of the article and buried the facts on page 7 without the context to say the reality is likely even worse because we can't get people to pay attention. I'm not sure whether that counts as irony, or tragedy.