Saturday, November 28, 2009

Case Study in Media Coverage: The ASAN Protest Against Autism $peaks, Washington, DC, 10/31/09

One thing I've learned at work is that journalists write the stories they want to write. WJLA-TV wanted to do a feel-good story about people coming together to do something about (defeat?) autism. We saw the TV truck and one of us got the crew's attention. The result is "Autism Walk on National Mall Stirs Controversy." WJLA's feel-good story was spoiled and ASAN got its message out.

Contacting the media beforehand is very useful. Howard University's student newspaper, The Hilltop Online, published "Autistic Plea Less Pity" with the byline "People with autism speak out for equal treatment in society." Given Howard University's history of being the flagship black university, the civil rights/equal treatment angle is to be expected. This article negates any feel-good aspects of the Autism $peaks walk.

WAMU-FM did a short radio interview with Ari Ne'eman, ASAN's President and published a short article, "Locally-Founded Autism Group Protests D.C. Walk for Autism." In the interest of balanced journalism, WAMU interviewed an Autism $peaks spokesman. All he could say about Autism Speaks' lack of autistic board members was, "We're working on it." And they will continue to work on it until the apocalypse comes.

Later, Time Magazine published online "'I Am Autism': An Advocacy Video Sparks Protest", an indirect result of the Washington protest. This article attacks Autism Speaks' atrocious video "I am Autism" and publicizes ASAN and its efforts. It has links to the video and some parodies. Autism $peaks does not look good.

BTW, ASAN is the acronym for "Autistic Self-Advocacy Network."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Deceased Sandwich Thrown at ASAN Demonstrators by an Autism Speaks Walker, 10/31/2009

I was one of the Autism Self Advocacy Network's demonstrators at the Autism Speaks fundraising walk yesterday. Early in the walk, one of the walkers launched his sandwich at us. This is its remains after landing. What a waste! It would have been better off in someone's stomach.