Saturday, May 24, 2008

NBC national news features disabled person without mentioning disability

This is a big deal that the national network news is treating a news source with a disability just like anyone else, and in a story that has little to do with disability.

NBC Evening News with Brian Williams did a story May 23 about people cutting back on Memorial Day travel because of rising gas prices. Reporter Janet Shamlian talked to several people in the Atlanta area and one was presented as an "Atlanta mom" as Shamlian and she went to the grocery store to shop for weekend supplies.

The Atlanta mom is Fran Whitaker, who also happens to use a wheelchair. Whitaker discusses her family's scaling back of weekend plans, by going to the lake, which is closer, than to the beach.

The report makes no mention of Whitaker's disability and has some great shots of her and her kids shopping and loading the car with groceries. Just a regular shopping trip like anyone else -- that's great image that is most powerful because of its subtly.

Kudos to NBC Nightly News and Janet Shamlian for their report. (I do have to correct Shamlian on her intro to the piece in which she said "the cost of gas is crippling travel." Not a word to use if one is not a member of the disability community, Janet.)

You can watch the report here.

Thanks to Laura Hershey of Crip Commentary for tipping me to this.