One of the primary challenges facing journalism educators is replicating
the “real world” environments into which their students move once
they graduate. Most university-based journalism programs establish
a newsroom environment in which students undertake some subjects.
Yet frequently they have little contact with people considered “vulnerable”–
that is, individuals or groups who, by virtue of their race, religion,
disability or other factors, struggle to gain access to the media.
These groups – when they do feature in the media – can be misrepresented
and/or negatively portrayed because journalists do not understand
their specific circumstances. Using the IXth Special Olympics national
Games in Adelaide in 2010 as a case study, this paper uses David
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory to reveal how journalism students
can quickly develop new skills and an appreciation of disability while
working to daily deadline pressures.