Dr Shawn Burns


Shawn is a journalism lecturer at the University of Wollongong, a former print and television journalist/news director and owner of the “Disability and Media Matters” blog. “Disability and Media Matters”, discusses and highlights the representation of people with disability in the Australian news media, and, importantly, showcases the reaction and perception of people with disability to that representation.

Shawn’s passion and activism for change is driven from experience: His son, Mac, has cerebral palsy. Shawn argues most reporting of people who live with disability falls into two categories, at either end of a spectrum – tragedy, or heroism. He believes news media has an important role to play in society’s understanding of disability and its intrinsic part in community.

Shawn was awarded his doctorate in 2021 for his thesis entitled “Did the end justify the means? An exploration of how Australian newspapers portrayed people with disability when reporting on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and what people with disability say about the coverage”.