People with disabilities dot com

Journalism and commentary careers

Journalists with a disability looking through a camera.
An independent journalist looking through a camera.

Some people with disabilities should consider becoming journalists, commentators or anchors on TV. Several routes exist for this.

Mainstream media journalist/TV anchor

You can get hired by a media company and work for them. This may be easier said than done as it's possible you can face discrimination.

Doing freelance journalism for the company first might be a good way to introduce them to your work.

You could also pitch independent outlets instead of mainstream media outlets.

Many outlets (especially mainstream media outlets) would require a journalism degree. This could be a possible barrier for those on lower incomes.

Independent journalists

Independent journalists generally release stories on their website and/or YouTube channel.

You don't need a journalism degree though getting one may be useful.

You should follow journalistic ethics otherwise people may sue you or you may ruin your reputation.

Mainstream media journalists typically get more access to people and events than independent journalists. For example companies would invite journalists to press events. It's possible you'll get invites to such events but you may have to get on the right lists and/or have the right contacts etc.

Freelance journalist

This approach requires you to pitch ideas to companies and if they accept your stories they'll pay you. It's possible companies will assign you stories but most of the time you'll have to come up with stories yourself.

Interviewing people

As the owner of many websites I have interviewed DJs, former politicians and TV stars.

It's generally easier to ask people with lower profiles for interviews; they will be more likely to accept your interview request. You can usually contact such people directly.

If you Email/message many big name celebrities or their agents they will most likely ignore you unless you're part of a major company.

You should be a bit careful on the questions that you ask. It's possible the interviewee may find your questions offensive even if you did not intend this. This won't happen often but this is something that you have to be mindful of.

From experience some of the people you interview will promote your piece about them on social media.

Costs of doing independent journalism and/or independent commentary

Sometimes you may need to travel so the costs could include flights and accommodation for whoever is going.

If you're going to have a website this costs $50-$200 per year.

If you using video as part of your stories you can either buy cameras or just use a decent smart phone. A video editor might be an additional expense

Some commentators rent out space for a YouTube studio but some just have a home studio.

The importance of accuracy

If you want to be seen as a credible journalist you'll need to ensure that you have accurate information. Don't rush the story at the expense of getting all the facts.

The people you're doing a story on could suffer greatly if you get facts wrong.

Reactions to your journalism

It's possible that many people won't like your work. You could lose friends or allies if you say the wrong thing. I don't think you should worry about this if you're doing objective work.

Sometimes people smear journalists if they don't like their reporting. Most journalists don't have to deal with this.

In some countries they lock up journalists if they inconvenience the powerful too much. Again most journalists wouldn't have to deal with this.

Types of journalists

You aren't just limited to reporting on the news of the day. You can specialize in sports, music or many other subjects.

TV anchor/commentator

These jobs are generally not regarded as journalism but you doing them can improve the visibility of people with disabilities.

Independent commentator

Many independent commentators exist online. They have YouTube channels and/or websites. Normally independent commentators are not journalists but a person can be both a commentator and a journalist.

Press freedoms do exist in the United States but this is not absolute. Independent outlets such as Gawker have been sued out of existence.

Commentators will go on each other's shows; this assists them in gaining followers. Some independent also try to get interviews in mainstream media to gain exposure.

If you have a YouTube channel you may want to tell people to subscribe to your channel.

Raising funds for independent operations

Many people raise funds through Patron and YouTube advertisement revenue. However in order for these fund raising mechanisms to be successful you would probably need hundreds/thousands of subscribers.

YouTube will not place advertisements on some videos. I frequently hear political commentators complain about this. Many of these commentators find other ways to fund their work.

You could do crowd funding campaigns but again you need an audience to successfully do this. It's possible you can leverage another person's/company's audience.

Some people have raised thousands through crowd funding and built entire studios from the proceeds.

PressPatron.com could be another option. Many commentators also have Substack.com newsletters; people pay a small fee to get a newsletter.

Social media

Many journalists and commentators maintain public social media profiles. They utilize social media to build a following and promote their work. If they work independently they may utilize their social media following to raise funds.

Some journalists have an Email they utilize to gather tips about potential stories.

People will probably use social media to criticize you. It's important to separate constructive criticism from trolling. You can ignore or ban trolls if you want.

Accessibility limitations

If you require an assistant it could be more expensive to travel. A corporation may hire you as a local journalist.

It can be difficult to get into buildings and houses depending on your mobility needs. However you could meet the people you're interviewing in a more accessible building or do the interview online.

If you cannot talk (like me) this could impact your ability to interview people and/or ask follow up questions. All of my interviews have been conducted through Email so you can probably work around this limitation.

If you're not good with deadlines then you may struggle doing journalism and/or commentary.

Thanks for reading




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