The source that published the analyzed piece of media addressing the disability issues is the newspaper The Portland Press Herald.
The medium of the analyzed piece is the Internet; the article was accessed through the source’s web page available online.
The article chosen for analysis was published online on 14 August 2021.
The authors of the article are the journalists with The Portland Press Herald, Alisha Saxena and Laura Demarco.
Facts vs. Opinions
The article is considered news since it is published in a newspaper; however, the piece is a part of a commentary section, which implies a significant share of opinion-based claims. The piece argues that despite the growing number of people with disabilities who comprise about a quarter of the American electoral population, disabled individuals in general and women, in particular, are underrepresented in politics (Saxena and Demarco). The writers’ perspective, as evident from the article, is informative, persuasive, and equality-directed. Saxena and Demarco operate with objective factual information to deliver the statistics on the underrepresentation of disabled American women in politics.
The authors’ point of view is not biased since they present factual data with references to credible surveys, polls, and reports. For example, the writers emphasize the fact that “25 percent of American adults experience some type of disability,” but “the number of disabled politicians is a staggeringly low 10 percent of sampled U.S. elected officials” (Saxena and Demarco par. 1). The intended audience of the source is the general public. In contrast, the intended audience of the piece is the politicians, public administration decision-makers, and the community of people with disabilities. People diverse in gender, age, economic status, and political preference are targeted by the piece since it primarily addresses those with disabilities.
Positive vs. Negative Communication
In general, the analyzed article is designed to raise awareness among the general public and the community of people with disabilities about the lack of representation of the disabled’s interests in the political domain. When raising awareness, the authors indulge in both positive and negative communication types by addressing the multitude of factors and outcomes involved in the addressed issue. On the one hand, there are numerous instances of negative communication found in the article. For example, the authors provide judgmental remarks when validating the difficulties behind womens’ underrepresentation in politics. The writers note that although “disability is more prevalent among women than men, disabled women experience roughly double the rate of electoral underrepresentation than their male counterparts” (Saxena and Demarco par. 2). As the quote implies, the authors leave no room for an opposite opinion and criticize the current state of affairs.
On the other hand, through the promotion of positive communication, the authors advocate for the concerns of the community of people with disabilities. They build respect and empathy toward this population by encouraging action and change. The concluding remark of the article is very illustrative of this assertion. The authors close their article by addressing the readers, stating, “let’s move beyond promising equity and focus on enacting it” (Saxena and Demarco par. 8). Thus, the media piece cultivates both positive narrative and negative communication around the issues faced by women with disabilities in the USA. Negative connotations are associated with the criticism of the current state of the problem, and positive aspirations are related to the promotion of the community’s needs and interests.
Although there are no explicitly addressed stereotypes in the analyzed article, it still implies a biased attitude toward women with disabilities within the political context. Indeed, as with any other underrepresented group, stereotypical thinking is present, which means that the general public’s opinions are validated by assumptions that do not reflect reality. In this particular case, Saxena and Demarco break the stereotype around people with a disability concerning their employment capacity, public activity, and political involvement. Indeed, the authors strive to demonstrate that although disabled, women with either physical or mental impairments are constituents of the political domain. Since their percentage in the general population is high, their interests should be presented at the federal and state political level. Thus, the old stereotype that the disabled should be passive politically is destroyed through building awareness about the representation of the community’s interests in politics.
Since the piece is a commentary on a relevant and tentative social issue, its effect on the audience is strong. At the level of feelings, the target audience might experience empathy toward the underrepresented population through relating to their concerns and problems as presented by the authors. Similarly, the audience might feel respect toward the representatives of the disability culture due to their achievements in the area of political activity. Moreover, the audience might develop new thinking patterns as a result of familiarizing themselves with the article’s content. It might be manifested through the perception of people with disabilities not through the stereotypical lens but as lawful and equal citizens deserving fair representation. These changes in feelings and thinking are expected to alter the audience’s behavior from supporting the community to advocating for their electoral opportunities. As for my reflection on the article, it made me think about people with disabilities in a different mode. I was not informed about such a gap in political representation, as well as about the gender differences in the disability community. I felt empathy toward the representatives of the addressed population group. Also, I might be likely to promote the agenda addressed by the authors in my social activity.
Saxena, Alisha, and Laura Demarco. “Commentary: Why are Disabled Women so Underrepresented in American Politics?” The Portland Press Herald, 2021, Web.