Analysis of Newspaper Coverage of Food Security through a Disability Studies Lens

  •  Gregor Wolbring    
  •  Rachel Mackay    


Food security is an issue of global concern recognized by numerous international and national agencies. It has been mentioned over twenty times in the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want. It is recognized as an essential human security by the World Health Organization Commission for Human Security and as a social determinant of health. Food security agendas are enacted in many places locally to globally. Media are to inform the public on issues of importance for the public. Disabled people are part of the public and disabled people are one group experiencing over proportional levels of food insecurity. We investigated the food security coverage of various newspapers through a disability studies lens. To obtain quantitative data on the visibility of disabled people and other groups in the food security discourse the following newspapers were investigated: The Globe and Mail (Canada), National Post (Canada), Calgary Herald (Canada), New York Times (USA), The Guardian (UK), The Times (UK), and the Canadian Newsstand complete, a collection of 300 Canadian newspapers. Quantitative and qualitative data on what food security issues were reported was obtained from The Globe and Mail (Canada), Calgary Herald (Canada) and the New York Times (USA). We discuss how issues reported around food security are influenced by disabled people and how they could impact disabled people. We found very little to no mentioning of disabled people within food security coverage. Our data also reveals the absence of coverage of other socially disadvantaged groups such as indigenous people and immigrants and a lack of a human rights or ethics angle. We posit that many of the food security problems mentioned are of relevance to and experienced by disabled people and other socially disadvantaged groups such as indigenous people and immigrants however the reader won’t make the linkage by reading the newspapers we investigated. We conclude that the utility of the newspapers covered in advancing food security for disabled people and other socially disadvantaged groups is very low.

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