The Long News

Filed Under (Autism and The Media) by Estee on 01-04-2010

We are bombarded by news stories. If you are like me, you might remember CNN in its earlier days, when it was significant to watch the fall of Soviet occupation in Wenceslas Square or the Berlin Wall coming down (I was in Berlin the year before and in Wenceslas Square just last year — side note…doesn’t really matter). The only two other times in my life that were highly memorable in terms of news-watching was the first man on the moon in 1968. I was only three but I remember it well. Of course, we all remember that atrocious day of 9-11.

Today, I hardly watch the news. CNN is a plethora of pundits commenting on the news events. There is hardly a representation of real news anymore; by that I mean interviewing the people who are part of the story as opposed to onlookers who comment on the story. Thank you very much, but I think we should be reading such opinions from The New York Times or other older styles of news media that we held in our hands and contemplated. I for one still buy The Atlantic, Harpers, Utne Reader among others which I find intelligent and thoughtful. The demand for creating news 24/7 has not only overloaded us, but in my opinion, forces us to live on the periperhy of life, contrary to what we thought it would enable us to do. A lot of news doesn’t make us more engaged in the world. We might hear a lot of what is happening on our planet, but we are neither partaking in it, nor absorbing it well.

I don’t think I need to explain that this is happening in autism too because it is such a hot topic in the news. It’s a very fine line because all this new media (it’s sheer quantity), can also be an opportunity. Yet, in my experience in dealing with the media, there are journalists and programs few and far between that will devote the time, energy and funds to researching a topic for a great length of time. That documentary “Positively Autistic” (see one of the videos on the sidebar of this blog) took eight months to produce! Lani Sellick its producer, spent months calling and visiting people trying hard to understand the rick complexities that embody autism. The piece was approximately fifteen minutes long and now CBC’s The National — a program that had been defined by the late Barbara Frum — has now cut such pieces from it’s news program because the format has changed and those pieces were “too long.” No one wants to spend the time or the money really getting to the heart of an important story. It’s all fast and furious and well, empty.

I have been a member of The Long Now Foundation for just over a year.This excerpt, from the TED conference is about The Long News. Not only does the Long Now Foundation raise questions about why short term thinking about our world is a problem, the immediate point that comes to mind is how this short-term “autism-is-a-problem-that-must-be-cured-asap” can be especially dangerous. Many ethical questions begin to come into play.


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About Me


I’m a PhD candidate at York University, Critical Disability Studies, with a multi-disciplinary background in the arts as a curator and writer. I am the Founder of The Autism Acceptance Project (, and an enamoured mother of my only son who lives with the autism label. I like to write about our journey, critical issues regarding autism in the area of human rights, law, and social justice, as well as reflexive practices in (auto)ethnographic writing about autism.