The National Union of Journalists’ Disabled Members Council (DMC) has released details of a survey of union members which shows that a worrying 31% of disabled NUJ-member journalists are ‘long term’ unemployed.
DMC Chair Stephen Brookes said: “This is a serious problem which shows that the lack of disability representation and journalism in newsrooms will do little improve society’s understanding of disability.”
The NUJ Disabled Members Council is working hard to improve the status of disabled people in the media, both in representation and employment, and the survey has shown that some serious problems face disabled journalists.
Mr Brookes said: “Other findings of immediate concern are that 4.1% of disabled journalist respondents have experienced actual discrimination in the workplace, and 8.4% have experienced problems with job opportunity access.”
One respondent to the anonymous survey commented: “In looking at employment of disabled people in the media, ‘the best person for the job’ is a loaded term. It could mean ‘who fits in’ or ‘who doesn’t create problems’, and clearly disabled people are seen as causing problems. The playing field should be equal, but unfortunately there are subjective qualities and access barriers or health and safety problems, which are just bad excuses that are brought into the game and before a job opportunity could ever begin it frequently is ended.”
Other important responses showed that in terms of representation of disability, 56% of non-disabled respondents consider that disabled people are not represented fairly in the media, and this reply goes up to a massive 87% from disabled members.
Mr Brookes insists that: “The support of the non-disabled members of our union is essential in ensuring that disabled people do not continue to be the invisible group in the media industry.” And he added: “The survey results show the sad truth of employer-created discrimination facing disabled people in all areas of employment in the UK, and I specifically urge all media organisations to urgently re-evaluate their disability equality policies.”
For more information contact NUJ DMC Chair – Stephen Brookes MBE on 01253 594114 firstname.lastname@example.org or NUJ Equality Officer Lena Calvert on 0207 278 7916.