Disability News Updates: Disability in the media and what Leveson missed
Writing for Channel 4 News, Katharine Quarmby says the Leveson report into press standards has missed the views of one major group: disabled people.
Award winning author of ‘Scapegoat: why we are failing disabled people’, Quarmby is qualified to comment on the Leveson inquiry and the notable absence of disabled views and opinions within it. During the hearings, which lasted 16 months, Leveson took evidence from 474 people yet not a single person was permitted to give oral evidence on the press’ relationship with disabled people.
Glasgow Media Group carried out research which found there has been a tripling in the use of the word “scrounger” in media reports in the last five years. Because of this there is a deep feeling of animosity with two papers, the Sun and the Express, running campaigns encouraging the public to denounce people they judge to be disability benefit fraudsters.
Focus group research by Glasgow Media Group found the “scrounger” rhetoric has resulted in the general public believing 50 to 70 percent of those on disability benefits are claiming falsely. According to the government’s statistics, the real figure is actually under one percent.
Ms Quarmby has described the media’s disproportionate, and often false, portrayal of disability as a “modern witch-hunt”, and accused politicians of demonising vulnerable British citizens.
Although Quarmby applauds Leveson’s forensic approach into the “dark arts of media management” she feels he has missed a great opportunity to tackle the negative disability reporting and fears it could now be too late.
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