With a week to go before the Rio Paralympics, new research from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) has shown the public’s desire to see more disability sport in the media. With many media channels set to cover elite disability sport at the Rio Paralympics, the report flags the importance of coverage beyond the Games and on a par with non-disabled people in sport. To support journalists and those who provide news content on disabled people in sport, EFDS is also releasing a better practice Guide to accompany the research.
To produce the Media Research Report, EFDS commissioned ComRes, who spoke to disabled people, non-disabled people and sports journalists from local, national and specialist outlets. As well as benchmarking media’s current portrayal of disabled people in sport, it assesses opinions on disability sport news. The key findings show:
- The way the media reports on disabled people in sport has a societal impact and has wider effects on people’s perceptions of disability.
- Despite the notable improvement in reporting since London 2012, disabled and non-disabled people want to see more disability sport coverage and parity with non-disabled people in sport.
- There needs to be long-term efforts to improve the media coverage in-between Paralympic years to have a lasting impact for all disabled people in sport. While this is a high profile year for disability sport, there is an opportunity to shape coverage beyond the Paralympics.
- Journalists and sports providers need more support and guidance on appropriate reporting.
For journalists and news providers, there were some key messages:
- A number of groups can contribute to improving media coverage of disability sport and play an active role. They include journalists, news providers, National Governing Bodies of sport, sports clubs and ambassadors.
- Priorities should be to:
- Focus on achievement rather than disability
- Avoid overly using terms such as “inspirational”
- Clearly explain classification systems, recognising disability, but not dwelling on it
- Use higher quality images, especially for local events.
The accompanying Guide supports journalists and sports providers to produce news content on disabled people in sport. It explores six areas- tailoring content, story type, style and placement, language, media formats and ambassadors.
Last week (25 August), EFDS and ComRes hosted an exclusive event for journalists and key stakeholders in sport. Those present included BBC, Sky Sports News and Sport England. The hosts presented the findings, followed by a panel discussion including David Walker, Sports Editor at the Daily Mirror and Tim Hollingsworth, the British Paralympic Association’s Chief Executive.
- You can download the report here http://www.efds.co.uk/how-we-help/research
- You can download the Guide from here http://www.efds.co.uk/how-we-help/resources
- Follow the conversation using #EFDSMediaReport