How is autism portrayed in news media? A content analysis of Australian newspapers articles from 2016-2018

Autor(en): Baroutsis, Aspa
Eckert, Carolin
Newman, Siobhan
Adams, Dawn
Stichwörter: ADULTS; Autism; AWARENESS; BRITISH; CHILDREN; content analysis; COVERAGE; DISABILITY; KNOWLEDGE; media; newspaper; PEOPLE; Rehabilitation; REPRESENTATIONS; Social Sciences - Other Topics; Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary; SPECTRUM DISORDER; terminology
Media sources can influence and shape attitudes and beliefs towards others. This study explored newspapers depictions of autism. All articles which included keywords relating to autism published in 2016-18 in Australian newspapers were read, coded, and categorised. In 2016, 428 articles relating to autism were published, 532 in 2017, and 391 in 2018. Only 7% of all articles demonstrated a high content focus on autism; most (59%) were heavily focused on opinion and less than 1% included first-hand perspectives from individuals on the spectrum. Over half the articles focussed upon health and medical issues (33%) and profiles of people on the autism spectrum (25%). To minimise the spread of misinformation around autism, the paper concludes with advice for those writing media articles related to autism. Points of interest Newspapers provide a public account of autism and those with autism, therefore, media portrayals and what aspects of the condition are reported, inform public perceptions. Newspaper articles predominantly focus on the health and medical aspects of the condition, emphasising a `cure' or treatments for autism. Articles tend to single out individuals with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, through media depictions or characterisations. Media articles reviewed often only mentioned autism but did not explain or discuss the details related to the syndrome and rarely included the expertise of qualified practitioners. Only 1% of all news stories included first-hand perspectives from individuals on the autism spectrum. Supplemental data for this article is available online at .
ISSN: 09687599
DOI: 10.1080/09687599.2021.1971067

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