National Center on Disability and Journalism

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The National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ)[1] provides resources and support to journalists covering disability issues. It is headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.[2]


The center was founded in 1998 as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how people with disabilities are undercovered in the news.[3] Freelance photographer Suzanne Levine established the Disability Media Project in San Francisco to serve as a bridge between the media and disability communities. An advisory board of journalists, educators and disability activists helped develop resources for working journalists and for schools of journalism and mass communication to integrate coverage of people with disabilities into their curriculum.[4] In 2000, the organization's name was changed to the National Center on Disability and Journalism to reflect its journalistic mission as opposed to advocacy. The center was housed in the humanities building at San Francisco State University and for a short time in an office on Market Street in San Francisco.[5][6] After moving to Boston[7][8] in 2004, the NCDJ pursued an affiliation with a university journalism program.

In 2008, the center was moved to the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University in downtown Phoenix. It is directed by Associate Dean Kristin Gilger and staffed by a graduate assistant and several volunteers.[9]


The focus of the NCDJ is to provide support, resources and guidance to reporters who cover disabilities as a beat as well as those who occasionally report on people with disabilities. Although at least 19 percent of the U.S. population have some kind of disability as defined under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they are underrepresented in the mainstream media and that coverage is often inaccurate or incomplete.[10][11] On the center's website, there is a newsfeed of the latest stories covering disability issues as well as various resources including an oft-cited disability style guide[12][13] explaining appropriate language and terms when describing disabilities and an interview tip sheet[14] with best practices for reporters.[15][16]

Advisory Board[edit]

The NCDJ Advisory Board in made up of working professional journalists and educators who help chart the course of the center and provide support and advice.[17]

  • Jerry Ceppos: The dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University, Ceppos previously held positions at Knight Ridder, San Jose Mercury News, The Miami Herald and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Ceppos has been active with First Amendment issues and is a former board member of the Student Press Law Center and of the First Amendment Coalition in California.
  • Nan Connolly: A former business editor with Knight Ridder and reporter, Connolly is a journalism professor at the Nicholson School of Communication at the University of Central Florida. Connolly is a longtime advocate for people with disabilities and member of the Special Olympics and National Alliance on Mental Illness.
  • Richard Dalton, Jr.: A former technology reporter and consumer columnist for Newsday, Dalton is a freelance journalist and co-creator of Beautiful Minds, a radio show on mental illness airing on Coop Radio, 102.7 FM, in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Leon Dash: Dash is a former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post. He is currently a Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • Steve Doig: Before joining Arizona State University as the Knight Chair in Journalism, Doig worked for 20 years as an investigative reporter and editor at The Miami Herald.
  • Beth Haller: Haller is a professor of journalism/new media at Towson University in Maryland. She also founded the blog "Media dis&dat" on disability issues in the news.
  • Jennifer LaFleur: LaFleur is the senior editor for data journalism at The Center for Investigative Reporting. Previously, she was the director of computer-assisted reporting for the non-profit organization ProPublica and the computer-assisted reporting editor at The Dallas Morning News.
  • Tim McGuire: McGuire is the Frank Russell Chair for the Business of Journalism at Arizona State University. He spent most of his career as the editor and senior vice president of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Suzanne Robitaille: In addition to writing for print and online publications such as The Wall Street Journal and, Robitaille is the founder and editor-in-chief of, which covers disability news and assistive technology.


The Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability was created in 2012 as the first national journalism award devoted exclusively to disability coverage.[18] It is administered by the National Center on Disability and Journalism through a grant from Schneider, a retired clinical psychologist who also supports the Schneider Family Book Award.[19] Entries from print, broadcast and online outlets are accepted and judged based on how they go beyond the ordinary in covering the experiences of people with disabilities and how well they highlight strategies for overcoming challenges. The first-place winner is awarded $5,000 and an invitation to speak at the Cronkite School; the second-place winner receives a $1,500 award; and honorable mention awards of $500 may be given by the judges.[20] 2013[21] First Place: "Broken Shield," California Watch, The Center for Investigative Reporting[22] Second Place: "The Autism Advantage," New York Times Magazine[23] Honorable Mention: "Playing by Ear," Narratively[24] Honorable Mention: "Second Chapter: A Portrait of Barry Corbet," Dartmouth Alumni Magazine[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NCDJ". The Free Dictionary. 
  2. ^ "Disability Center Comes to Cronkite School". ASU News. October 5, 2009. 
  3. ^ Haller, Beth. "NCDJ". Media & Disability Resources. 
  4. ^ Levine, Suzanne. "Reporting on Disability". Media Alliance. 
  5. ^ Haller, Beth. "Diversity Toolbox: Covering Disability Issues". Society of Professional Journalists. 
  6. ^ "National Center on Disability and Journalism". A San Francisco Bay Area Progressive Directory. 
  7. ^ "Nonprofit Report on National Center on Disability and Journalism". GuideStar. 
  8. ^ "National Center On Disability And Journalism in Boston, Massachusetts (MA)". 
  9. ^ Woods, Annie. "More History of the NCDJ". 
  10. ^ "Nearly 1 in 5 People Have a Disability in the U.S., Census Bureau Reports". U.S. Census Bureau. 
  11. ^ "National Center on Disability and Journalism". Media Diversity Institute. 
  12. ^ "Style Guide". National Center on Disability and Journalism. 
  13. ^ "Writing About People With Disabilities". Journalist's Toolbox. 
  14. ^ "Tips for Interviewing People with Disabilities". National Center on Disability and Journalism. 
  15. ^ Davenport, Reid. "Pronouncing Disability". Disability Frontline. 
  16. ^ "Terms for People with Disabilities". NYU Langone Medical Center. 
  17. ^ "NCDJ Advisory Board". National Center on Disability and Journalism. 
  18. ^ "NCDJ Announces New Journalism Award to Recognize Disability Coverage". Society for Features Journalism. 
  19. ^ "Journalism contest on disability issues open [US]". International Journalists' Network. 
  20. ^ "Disability Reporting Contest Accepts Entries". Cronkite News. July 11, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Center for Investigative Reporting Wins Inaugural Award Recognizing Disability Coverage". Cronkite News. October 8, 2013. 
  22. ^ Gabrielson, Ryan. "Broken Shield". California Watch. 
  23. ^ Cook, Gareth. "The Autism Advantage". New York Times Magazine. 
  24. ^ Denis, Daphne; Emam, Hoda. "Playing By Ear". Narratively. 
  25. ^ Coburn, Broughton. "Second Chapter: A Portrait of Barry Corbet" (PDF). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. 

External links[edit]