Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reporters Get New Guidance On Disability Lingo

In a first, the “journalist’s bible” will include guidance for reporters on how to write about mental illness and conditions like autism.
Officials behind the influential Associated Press Stylebook say they’ve added a new entry for “mental illness.”
The addition to the guide — which is relied upon by reporters at news outlets nationwide — advises journalists not to mention a diagnosis of autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mental disorders unless it is germane to the story and properly sourced.
What’s more, when mentioning a person’s mental illness in a news story, the AP Stylebook urges reporters to be as specific as possible about their diagnosis and include examples of symptoms. Journalists are advised to “avoid descriptions that connote pity,” stay away from terms like insane, crazy, nuts or deranged and told not to assume that mental illness is associated with violent crime.
“It is the right time to address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in coverage,” said Kathleen Carroll, executive editor and senior vice president at the AP. “When is such information relevant to a story? Who is an authoritative source for a person’s illness, diagnosis and treatment? These are very delicate issues and this Stylebook entry is intended to help journalists work through them thoughtfully, accurately and fairly.”
Read more of Michelle Diament's Disability Scoop article HERE.
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