“One Good Thing” is Bad

WZZM Grand Rapids, Michigan [Tegna]

Tegna’s WZZM in Grand Rapids, Michigan has a series of reports called “One Good Thing”.

Today’s report is about a blind woman wo creates art with crayons.

Story format (text version on website):

Introduction.

Quotes from disabled person.

Quotes from non-profit organization leader.

More quotes from disabled person.

Then, event announcement is for a fundraiser that disabled person cannot participate in. A  blind person who can draw with crayons  may not be able to play golf.

The text version of the story ends with “Do you have a deeply personal story with a call to action?” followed by an email address.

The anchor ends the televised version saying that the person featured in the story is inspiring.

For drawing with crayons.

The website image for the story shows the featured disabled person in a wheelchair.

So, she can’t play golf.

An article on Psychology Today’s website explains what this type of story is,

A TEDx Talk on YouTube defines it,

WZZM “One Good Thing”, as well as similar reports in other media, objectifies disabled people.

How may of these stories will inspire the non-disabled people to change things that actually help disabled people?

How does this story inspire the news anchor?

This article from Respect Ability explains in detail what the problem is. “Uplifting stories about disabled people completing everyday tasks” best describes this WZZM news story.

Drawing with crayons is not a news story. Working towards being a public speaker and author, is newsworthy.

However, WZZM did interview the disabled person. This is why I ask if a disabled person is included in the story in my news commentary. The answer is yes, here. However, future “One Good Thing” stories may not include disabled people.

Ultimately, “One Good Thing” is  a fundraising announcement.

But the call to action is for a fundraising event in which someone in a wheelchair can’t play.

The station has a history with the  Jerry Lewis Telethon, with local cut-ins.

This could have been two separate stories: the disabled person, then the fundraiser. Combining them essentially made an adult woman a poster child for the non-profit home where she lives.