Search Results for: assault rifle
There has been a lot of great work this week about another disturbing news event; the mass shooting in Orlando. Thank you.
As much as we hope “this is the last one,” we have to think about things we’ve learned in case they come up again.
This brings us to weapons.
Posts after earlier mass shootings have discussed why we need to be very careful when describing them.
“Until we have solid information from the authorities, we need to be careful about descriptions of those weapons. Words to avoid unless we are sure of them include: ‘automatic,’ ‘semi-automatic,’ ‘assault’ and ‘assault-style.’ They are often misused.”
“To many in the audience, ‘assault rifles’ are fully automatic weapons that cannot be legally purchased. At this point, it’s better to refer to the rifles used in San Bernardino as ‘assault-style.’”
Everyone’s done a good job applying that thinking. Thank you. Here’s what we’re adding to the guidance:
Until there are on-the-record statements from officials in charge of an investigation, or until we have heard from multiple, reliable sources with direct knowledge and the reporting has been vetted with senior editors, do not go into specifics about the types of weapons or their manufacturers. It will often be enough to say, for example, that the gunman had a “rifle and handgun.” As more details come in, “assault-style” may be important to add. Or, perhaps “semi-automatic” if we’re absolutely sure that’s correct.
When we eventually get into specifics, attribution is essential – “said Police Chief John Doe” or “said three law enforcement officials with directly knowledge of the investigation.”
The message here is simple. The details about the weapons will emerge. But in the early hours and perhaps days after a mass shooting, the exact make and model and manufacturer are not at the top of the list of things we need to nail down. And, frankly, if we try to be too precise before all the facts are in, we run the risk of being wrong.
Think of it this way: If the story is that someone with a rifle killed or injured dozens of people in a matter of minutes, it’s clear a powerful weapon that could be rapidly fired was used. Whether it was made by one company or another and exactly which model it was doesn’t immediately change the story or add substantially to the audience’s understanding of what happened.
Again, thanks for the hard work and for applying previous guidance notes.
(“Memmos;” June 17, 2016)
Because some words and phrases come up often, because there are new folks on most desks and shows, because some people have shifted jobs in recent months and because many of us have lousy memories, a reminder is in order.
We have guidance on a wide variety of words and phrases that need to be handled carefully. The guidance should be used.
– Do we say “abortion clinics?” No. We refer to “clinics that perform abortions.” Read more.
– “Illegal immigrants?” “Undocumented immigrants?” No and no. We prefer action phrases such as “people in the country illegally.” Read more.
– “Assault rifle?” Probably not. In most cases it’s “assault-style.” Read more.
– “Migrants” or “refugees?” They aren’t interchangeable. Read more.
– “Gay marriage?” No. “Same-sex marriage” is the phrase to use. Read more.
– “Islamic terrorists?” No. The word to use is “Islamist.” Read more.
There are several places to go to find such guidance. We all should read through them occasionally to see what’s there, refresh our memories and head off annoying notes from editors. The resources include two that are open to the public:
More is posted on our radio and digital style guides – which remain, for now at least, inside our Intranet. It’s not that hard to get to them. They’re just a couple clicks away. Go to the Intranet, click on the little “link” icon in the top left corner and a dropdown box will appear. Then click on “Wiki.” Note: There are “radio” and “digital” guides mostly because some things need to be spelled out or expressed slightly differently depending on the platform.
You’ll find our link to the AP Style Guide is there as well.
If you’re outside our Intranet, the RAD team or I can see if there’s guidance on your issue.
- Walk over and look at the white wall by Newscast. There’s quite a bit of information on it.
- Talk to the journalists here who have already thought through the issue you’ve got. The Science Desk, for example, comes to mind on subjects such as climate change and abortion.
(“Memmos;” Feb. 19, 2016)
Many thanks to everyone for the care that’s been taken with the information coming in from San Bernardino. Our language has been precise, we’ve added important context and we’ve been clear about what’s known and what isn’t.
The “reportable” and “guidance” notes from editors and reporters have been extremely helpful. One thing: Please remember to include language about the sources of that information. It’s very important that we be able to tell listeners and readers where we’re getting our information.
Also, please continue to be careful about descriptions of the weapons. To many in the audience, “assault rifles” are fully automatic weapons that cannot be legally purchased. At this point, it’s better to refer to the rifles used in San Bernardino as “assault-style.”
But again, thanks. We’ve gotten many messages such as this one posted on Facebook:
“Thank you for reporting only the facts while others in the media build a frenzy just to be the first with ‘new information’, credible or not.”
From October: “Take Care When Describing Weapons.”
(“Memmos;” Dec. 3, 2015)
As we cover news about the mass shooting in Oregon, we will get reports and see reports about the weapons that were used.
Until we have solid information from the authorities, we need to be careful about descriptions of those weapons. Words to avoid unless we are sure of them include: “automatic,” “semi-automatic,” “assault” and “assault-style.” They are often misused.
Obviously, the shooter had “guns.” It is being reported that he had both “handguns” and a “rifle.” Those are good words because of their breadth. It is best to stick to such words until authorities release details.
The AP Stylebook has a substantial entry for “weapons” that has good guidance. If you’re on our intranet, you can get to the Stylebook here: http://www.apstylebook.com/npr/
We also have hard copies of the Stylebook. There’s one with The Two-Way team and others with copy editors Susan Vavrick, Amy Morgan and Pam Webster.
(Memmos; Oct. 2, 2015)