Dec. 19, 2000 --
At year's end, a look back at 2000 media coverage of disability issues finds a mixed record. On the one hand, the major disability story of the year -- the 10th anniversary of the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act -- generated much news coverage, much of it quite good and deeper than the typical superficial treatment of disability rights issues. The San Francisco Chronicle's July 26 story, "Collecting on a Promise: Disabled say they are still in fight for rights 10 years after disabilities act," by Carolyn Lochhead of the Chronicle's Washington Bureau, offered a fair and balanced assessment of both the changes in the environment brought about by the law's access mandates, and interviewed disability leaders on the problems stemming from continued lax enforcement of the act. To read the story, which is still online, go to
Lochhead's story, like many during July on the Act's progress, did seem to give disability rights leaders equal voice, although for "balance" many reporters or their editors felt obliged to quote the Act's many vociferous critics.
Many of the major news outlets have kept their ADA anniversary stories online (for a list of many of the stories from major news outlets that ran last July around ADA Anniversary time, visit Ragged Edge magazine's mediacircus.com website at http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/mediacircus/annivnews.htm )
The Washington Post's coverage during ADA anniversary time was also noteworthy; and its website continues to use the URL to feature coverage of ongoing disability rights issues, such as this past fall's Supreme Court oral arguments on the Garrett case. See the site at
The site provides links as well; of particular interest is the beautifully designed photo-essay on the disability activist group ADAPT by Washington Post photographer Lynn Johnson at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/photo/onassignment/adapt/
Unfortunately, despite this good news, much media coverage on the ADA continued to portray the Act "as mainly a regulatory issue affecting private businesses, rather than a human rights issue facing society as a whole," writes Janine Jackson of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. Jackson's excellent overview, in the Nov./Dec. issue of F.A.I.R. EXTRA!, outlines the ADA-is-bad coverage. Read her story, "A Right, Not a Favor: Coverage of Disability Act misses historical shift" online at http://www.fair.org/extra/0011/ada.html