Nationals have 'long way to go' to support disabled

Just two of the UK’s 21 national newspapers said they employ disabled journalists, according to a survey by Disability Now magazine.

The magazine, which campaigns on behalf of disabled people, launched its “Hacked Off” investigation at the end of last year to find out how many disabled people work on the nationals.

National newspaper editors were sent letters asking how many editorial staff – including reporters, photographers, subs and newsdesk personnel – they employed, how many of those were disabled and whether the newsroom was accessible for people with mobility problems or sensory impairments.

Only five out of the nine newspaper groups responded, despite having more than three months to reply.

The Guardian, The Observer and The Independent were the only newspapers to say they were willing to sign a pledge to work towards increasing the number of disabled people on their staff. The survey also showed that none of the newspapers use the Government’s “two ticks” (positive about disabled people) symbol when advertising jobs.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear branded the results “shocking” and said that most newspapers had “a long, long way to go”.

He said the NUJ planned to write to the nationals, urging them to sign up to the pledge, which is backed by minister for disabled people Marie Eagle.

He told DN: “Newspapers cannot claim to properly reflect their readership unless they are prepared to not just pay lip service to tackling discrimination but to act to stamp it out.

“That means making sure newsrooms are fully accessible, ensuring staff are trained in reporting disability issues and making sure employment policies and procedures are not discriminatory.”

DN has now launched a major campaign backed by the NUJ, NCTJ, BJTC and the Government to increase the representation of disabled people in the media.

The investigation follows previous research carried out by the magazine into journalism colleges last summer, which showed that a quarter of UK colleges and universities have not accepted a single disabled student on to their courses in the past three years.

By Ruth Addicott

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