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Should disability issues have a special platform or still be part of mainstream media?

A research by Cheta Nilawaty Prasetyaningrum, supported by IALF and Australian Awards

Disability issues have become media hype in Indonesia after the regulation was legalised by the house of representative in 2016. However, only a few media are willing to publish the disability news. Because the readers are not familiar with the issue, it was considered as unpopular. The issue is not as well-known as political or economic news. As a consequence, its readership rate islower than political or economic issues. Some media which publish a disability news tend to attract the readers attention by presenting disability image as a false impression. Therefore, in terms of reimaging the false impression, should disability issues have a special platform or still be part of mainstream media?

The False Impression of Mainstream Media to Disability Image

1. Inspiration Porn

Inspiration porn is definedas the way people with disability are presented by other people as a contradictory role model. The person with disability is described not only as strong but also someone who has to be felt sorry for. In another words, even if disability is becoming more acceptable, abnormality is still the biggest fear.

2. Misusing disability terminology

Disability terminology tends to be used by media as character trait, plot device, or bad atmosphere. These representations are not accurate or fair. Sometimes disability is reinforced by the story background such as describing people with disability as ignorant and having negative attitudes. 

Shakespeare, in Kasap & Gurcinar (2018).

3. A seldom discussedissue

Because disability issues are considered as unpopular issues, only 1 percent of media in The United States have a fancy to cover disability issues, even journalists probably tend to extend publishing disability issues until one year later. This action is related with readership rate. Therefore, the issue is difficult to generate the readers’ attention. 

4. Hyper heroism

Hyper heroism is the interpretation of the media about ordinary behaviour of people with disability in an exaggerated way. Hyper heroism sometimes demonstrates a misconception of a judgement which is based on physical bias. For example, superheroes are rarely depicted as humans with prostheses or bionic organs. 

New Media Landscape

1. Public opinion could not be driven by the media

There is no evidence that public opinion could be driven by media framing. Moreover, the opinions of the audience are influenced by the way they think. There are many possible causes which shape the audience attitude and opinion toward disability. 

2. News values behind the issue

The frequent published-issue about disability in some countries have change considerably. The reason behind the upturn is because media have important role to reinforce important issues that support people with disability. For example, Media coverage behind the issuing process of National Disability Insurance System (NDIS) in Australia. There are 455 articles about NDIS covered by the Australian media. 

3. The change of readership value

The readership of media no longer depends on product circulation but the standard of reader attractiveness. Recently, disability issues are considered as social critics to a discriminative regulation which is produced by the government. For example, disability insurance under President Trump regulation in The United States. 

4. The rising of disability awareness

Some companies have started using images of disability to raise an awareness towards disability issues. Involving disability issues in advertisements could help a company to meet their social responsibility. Furthermore, the advertising also enhances the company to its readers. 


A comprehensive control system for disability issues in mainstream media could be created through the special platform. Because people with disability are able to give their full participation in empowering movements or addressing critics through the media, a control system would be created. The platform could encourage the media to be more concern in disability issues. 


Regarding the false impression of the media about people with disability, it is strongly recommended for media to have a special platform for disability issues. The platform could be the part of mainstream media which is incorporated with a special channel. The channel should be carried out by well-informed journalists, good coverage planning, strong background and proper interviews about disability issues. 

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