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Bad Journalism Watch

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Monday, 6 September 2004

Crippled Monkey is in a bad mood, and when I'm in a bad mood I make it my mission to seek out examples of awful journalistic writing about disability. Because it's easy and it's fun, that's why. Let's see what's out there on the web today, shall we?

Blind students to launch NASA rocket screams the headline on RedNova News (who they?), before going on to say:

"A dozen blind students from across the United States are ... working on a project most don't associate with the visually impaired - launching a NASA rocket."

Well, it's true - launching a NASA rocket isn't a project I normally associate with visually impaired students. But then I don't associate it with other students either. My little non-blind nephew, Billy Monkey, doesn't launch NASA rockets in his Physics lessons at school. I'd say it's pretty exceptional if any students - whether or not they're visually impaired - are busy launching NASA rockets. Mind you, if it leads to the first blind astronaut on the moon, then that will be very cool indeed.

And as if that wasn't enough science.

Professor Stephen Hawking

A recent article in a Canadian newspaper questioned why Professor Stephen Hawking hasn't yet won the Nobel Prize (yeah, we've been wondering that in the Ouch office, too). It went on at length about various complicated scientific things to do with black holes, and I had to give up reading halfway through because I didn't understand it. But what struck me more was the opening paragraph, which referred to the Prof - the man whom, let's not forget, Ouch readers voted their Great Disabled Briton - as "poor, dear Stephen Hawking". As if that wasn't enough, it continued the treatment by calling him: "the physics celebrity who played his own crippled, wheelchair-bound, voice-synthesizing self both on Star Trek and The Simpsons".

Still, if you're like me, and you're waiting for the predictable line about him being "a genius trapped inside a broken and shattered body", then you'll be surprised to learn that they didn't quite manage to reach those giddy levels of cliché. Amazing, really.


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