Highlighting disability affairs in mainstream media

15 July 2020

Earlier this month on Talking Vision, Nas Campanella spoke about her role as the ABC’s first disability affairs reporter.

You might recognise Nas Campanella from her time as a news reader on triple j. What you might not know is that Nas has been blind for most of her life – but that didn’t stop her achieving her dream of being a journalist.

Earlier this year, she began working as the first ever disability affairs reporter with lived experience for the ABC.

Changing how we look at disability

Although the ABC has published stories about people with disabilities in the past, Nas is the first reporter to exclusively cover these stories.

“I am really proud to be able to bring stories about people with disabilities to a mainstream audience,” Nas said.

Nas brings first-hand experience to her role with the ABC which many reporters do not have.

“As someone with a lived experience of a disability, I have a level of understanding of the issues facing our community that perhaps others don’t have.”

Nas also said that media perceptions of people with disabilities are slowly changing.

“We’ve seen really prominent people with disabilities in the media like Graeme Innes and more recently Carly Findlay and Eliza Hull.”

Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

As part of her new role, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability will take centre-stage.

Nas explained the commission has gone to great lengths to make all its content accessible to people with disabilities.

“They have easy to read word and PDF documents on their website and a hotline you can call.

“They’ve done such an amazing job, I’ve been so impressed,” Nas said.

Early on

Nas’ interest in journalism began at an early age.

“I have always had a real hunger for news. Growing up totally blind, radio was how I learnt about the world around me,” she said.

But it’s a hard industry to crack into, whether someone is blind, low vision or not.

Advice for budding journalists

Nas’ advice is that you’ve got to be prepared to put the hard yards in, do the night shifts and the weekends and you’ve got to go out and come up with your own stories.

“When you find things that you’re passionate about, write about them. Those are the things that will resonate with so many different people and that’s where you’ll do your best work.”

Other advice for budding journalists included getting out of your comfort zone.

After her cadetship with the ABC, Nas took a job in Bega, on the far south coast of New South Wales.

“It was scary,” she said. “I was living on my own for the first time, I didn’t have friends or family there and there was a lack of public transport.”

Although there were difficulties, going to Bega changed Nas’ life for the better.

“I would recommend that experience to anybody. It changed my life beyond recognition and it was the best thing I ever did.

“It made me the journalist I am today.”