Toronto Star columnist Helen Henderson writes a weekly column about people with disabilities. She’s the subject of an engaging profile by Susan M LoTempio, assistant managing editor of the Buffalo News, for the website of the Poynter Institute, a school for journalists.
While few columns on disability exist in the U.S. media, Henderson isn’t the first columnist to write about the issues at the Star. And she’s not afraid to let loose when she sees something she regards as an injustice.
… [she wrote] a series of columns in the ’90s about the high-profile case of a 12-year-old child with a disability who was killed by her father. Henderson received hate mail from people who felt the father was justified because of what his supporters labeled as the overwhelming problems of raising a child with a disability. Someone even mailed Henderson the photo that accompanies her column with her eyes burned out.
Public sympathy was with the father, Henderson recalled. It was not with her position that no one has the right to end the life of a child.
The biggest problem Henderson sees with media coverage of people with disabilities? It’s “… how patronizing [media] are,” she said. “Too often they treat people with disabilities as objects of pity.”
Some of Henderson’s columns can be found here.
And while we’re on the subject, this might be a good time to plug a memorable column by LoTempio that ran in the New York Times a couple of years ago. LoTempio tried to attended a concert by Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden. She found that her “accessible” seat provided her with an excellent view of gyrating backsides, but not of Sir Paul. Read her expression of outrage over the $278 ticket to bias. Registration and payment required (but hey, it’s worth it.)