Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Traditional Media versus Social Media Coverage of the Paralympics

Filed under: Living with a disability,Social Media,Vancouver Winter Games — by at 8:02 am on Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yesterday I was interviewed via email by CBC Radio about “Social Media and the Paralympics”. It was to air this morning on CBC’s Early Edition. However, my interview responses were cut from show, which raises a larger question about traditional media and representation of people with disabilities.

First, my written responses to the interviewer’s questions: 

How important is the role of social media in the Paralympic experience?

The role of the social media is crucial in the Paralympic experience. I have found that many people didn’t even know the Paralympics existed because traditional media do not cover the world’s second-largest sporting event. Social media is increasing awareness and building interest in these Games. Once people know about the Paralympics, they are wanting to know more, to see more; social media is filling the gap where mainstream media is failing.  Also, social media is also being used to put pressure on traditional media for more coverage of the Paralympics; for example, the Facebook page "Encourage CTV to Cover More of the Paralympics". Yesterday CTV announced it’ll air live the Closing Ceremonies across Canada. A result from the outcry via social media? Quite possible. Without social media people would experience very little of the Paralympics unless they are at the venues.

How does online help YOU experience the Games?

Social media has deepened my experience of the Games. I have tweetdeck open all day and am monitoring the hashtag #paralympics, so I get results from events immediately rather than needing to wait until the day’s highlights on CTV. I first heard of Brian McKeever’s gold in cross country skiing on Twitter. I also see photos from people’s experiences and links to blog posts and online news stories related to the Games. allows me to watch events that I wouldn’t see otherwise. Thanks to social media and online coverage I’m able to experience the Paralympic Games in a way I couldn’t relying solely on mainstream media coverage.

What’s the difference between social media during the Olympics vs the Paralympics?

The difference between social media during the Olympics and the Paralympics is there seems to be more focus on the athletes’ stories and the actual events, like what is ice sledge hockey and how does wheelchair curling differ from regular culling. There is definitely less coverage from the various pavilions , houses and other party-related events; no doubt because there are fewer. And, as I mentioned before, there’s an unified rallying voice for more coverage by traditional media. The social media has created a hunger, a market for the Paralympics.

Often in situations like this I would record a phone conversation and play it on air. From what I’ve read of your bio, I understand that we won’t be doing that, but I’d like to explain why. Would you mind telling be how you explain your ability to communicate, so I don’t make a mess of it?

Due my cerebral palsy, my speech is significantly impaired making verbal communication with those not well-versed in Glenda-ish futile. The written word is my most effective means of communication. Given enough preparation time I also use text-to-speech technology, although I use that mainly when giving presentations and speeches.

Despite my last response, I was not included in the story “Social Media and the Paralympics”. Yet, included were two local bloggers – Rebecca Bolwitt aka Miss604 and Andrea of 2010VanFan – and a professor from the School of Communications at Simon Fraser University (coincidentally I have a communications minor from SFU).

I can’t help but wonder if my responses were excluded because I am unable to do a phone interview, like the others did. My method of responding didn’t fit their format.

This raises a larger question: how much access or representation do people with disabilities, particularly those with significant physical disabilities, have in traditional media?

I mean, we’re talking about the world’s largest sporting event for people with disabilities and how traditional media provides minimal coverage, then traditional media cuts a well-known blogger with a disability from a story on how the social media is covering the Paralympics. WTF? What gives?

Social media is definitely more accessible to those of us with disabilities, enabling our otherwise marginalized voices to be heard for the first time in history.

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Susan

March 18, 2010 @ 8:31 am

Main Stream Media is lagging behind in terms of recognizing that all people should have equal access and equal representation.

Many of the people directly involved seem to be unaware that they’re making active choices that limit these for some. It’s part of our “job” to make them aware of when they’re making choices that limit others.

Once aware, the majority will put more thought into their choices and hopefully look for inclusive solutions.

Comment by John Haydon

March 18, 2010 @ 9:20 am


I wonder if the interviewer can comment here. It would be great to get their perspective.

Stations make their money by driving up viewers with flashy, fast-cutting news-bites. They may have determined that text-voice wasn’t MTV enough. 😉


Comment by Avril

March 18, 2010 @ 9:37 am

Thanks for the update, Glenda. I listened to CBC this morning, as I always do, and wondered if I had perhaps missed the segment where you were interviewed. Now I understand what happened. Who should I call or write to, to voice my opinion about your exclusion?

Comment by Glenda

March 18, 2010 @ 11:49 am

I heard from the reporter/producer after writing this post. Her time was cut while on the air, so she was editing on the fly. My bit was at the end and, thus, cut. One disadvantage of live radio!

The show was the Early Edition – I’ll leave it to my fans and social media to do as they see fit. 😉

Comment by Lorelle

March 19, 2010 @ 10:42 am

Honestly, Glenda, a lot of the time you can be understood, so I think it would be even more invaluable if they were able to air you speaking and include a voice “caption” like they do with those translating foreign languages. I actually like your voice and inflections. All you need is someone to translate Glendaish for them. 😀

You go, girl! Rock the social world and news media with the fight that equal rights means equal for all!

Comment by Rebecca

March 24, 2010 @ 9:37 am

Social media is definitely more accessible to those of us with disabilities, enabling our otherwise marginalized voices to be heard for the first time in history.

You really have a point here and I apologize for not seeing this until now.

Sometimes mainstream media doesn’t get it right – misquotes, omitted information etc. However, I think the fact that you can blog this, we can see it, and the message from the source can be passed on really says something. As Lorelle said, you rock!

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