Reporters Urged to Use 2 Words They Often Avoid

The Associated Press Stylebook takes a stand on 'racism'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2019 2:50 PM CDT
Reporters compete for questions in an over-crowded White House press room in this file photo.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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(Newser) – Reporters often avoid two words, but that era may be ending. This after the Associated Press Stylebook, a style manual used by many US journalists, gave them the official go-ahead to use "racist" and "racism," Poynter reports. "Do not use racially charged or similar terms as euphemisms for racist or racism when the latter terms are truly applicable," reads the updated guide released Friday, per the Hill. "If racist is not the appropriate term, give careful thought to how best to describe the situation. Alternatives include racially divisive, racially sensitive, or in some cases, simply racial." In other words, the guide is urging reporters to think deeply about race and racism and use the right word.

The NAACP called the step "a move in the right direction," telling NBC News that "in the face of a rising tide of white supremacy, embraced by some of our nation's leading political and corporate figures, it's important more than ever before to call out both racism and racists." Sarah Glover, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, also called the change "progress" but criticized "years of soft-pedaling around the word 'racist' in news reporting." And she's not alone: At the Huffington Post, Julia Craven last year rounded up examples of alternate media terms including "disparaging," "racially charged," "derogatory," "distasteful," and even "off-the-cuff." But not all: She points to a Variety report that CNN's Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon called President Trump "racist" over his remark about "sh--hole countries." (Read more racism stories.)

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