Search Results for: immigration

Notes

Don’t Say ‘Tax Reform’ #

The same guidance that applied during the Obama-era health care debate applies for the Trump-era tax debate.

“Reform” is not a neutral word. It’s used by partisans as they make the case that something needs to be fixed and that they’ve got a solution. And, as we’ve said, it “has a positive connotation so use it advisedly when referring to an issue that is controversial … (immigration reform, health care reform, welfare reform). Good substitutes: revamp, overhaul, change.”

In other words, proponents can use it. We shouldn’t.

(“Memmos;” March 20, 2017)

Notes

We’ll Be Reporting A Lot About Immigration, So Here’s A Reminder: Don’t Label People #

“When language is politicized, seek neutral words that foster understanding.”

That’s been our guidance since the Ethics Handbook was published in 2012 and it remains in effect. We “strive to use words and phrases that accurately deliver information without taking sides on emotional or political issues.”

The language used in the debate over immigration policy is particularly partisan and politicized. Advocates try to stick labels on people to “otherize” them.

That’s why we’ve issued guidance that stresses the importance of “action words” rather than labels.

For those who’ve joined NPR since that guidance was issued, here’s the key point: We don’t label people by referring to them as “illegals,” “illegal immigrants,” or “undocumented immigrants.” We say they are “in the country illegally” or use other action words to describe their situations. Also, we don’t label those who want to tighten immigration laws. We use action words to describe what those advocates want to do.

Even labels that until recent years were OK aren’t necessarily acceptable. As Adrian Florido reported last year, words can turn into slurs over time.

Finally, there are words and phrases that are clearly divisive, dismissive or derogatory and should not be used. “Anchor babies,” for example. The American Heritage Dictionary calls that a “disparaging term.”

When an issue is as charged as this, advocates are constantly using loaded language. Our job is to cut through that. Action words help enormously.

(“Memmos;” Nov. 15, 2016)

Notes

Guidance On References To The ‘Alt-Right’ #

When referring to the “alt-right” movement, additional words are needed because many in the audience either have not heard of it or aren’t sure what it is.

Morning Edition has explored “What You Need To Know About The Alt-Right Movement.” This excerpt is more than can be said in a Newscast spot or even most show pieces, but has good background:

The views of the alt-right are widely seen as anti-Semitic and white supremacist.

It is mostly an online movement that uses websites, chat boards, social media and memes to spread its message. (Remember the Star of David image that Trump received criticism for retweeting? That reportedly first appeared on an alt-right message board.)

Most of its members are young white men who see themselves first and foremost as champions of their own demographic. However, apart from their allegiance to their “tribe,” as they call it, their greatest points of unity lie in what they are against: multiculturalism, immigration, feminism and, above all, political correctness.

The AP says this: “The so-called alt-right – a movement often associated with far-right efforts to preserve ‘white identity,’ oppose multiculturalism and defend ‘Western values.’ ”

Sarah McCammon has put it this way: “The alt-right movement, which has been associated with white nationalism.”

“White nationalist” is the most concise description.

If you’re looking for more background, check out this Reveal episode and the conversation David Folkenflik had today on Here & Now (he’ll also be on All Things Considered).

(“Memmos;” Nov. 14, 2016.)

Notes

A ‘Major’ Speech? Says Who? #

If we’re going to say that a candidate is set to deliver a “major” address about something, in almost all cases we need to make clear that’s how the candidate’s campaign is characterizing it, not NPR.

This introduction to a Newscast spot last night did the job well:

“To the chants of  ’USA. USA,’ Donald Trump has taken the stage in Phoenix, Arizona, tonight to deliver what his campaign has billed as a major policy speech on immigration.”

 

Yes, there are times when objective observers agree that a speech is going to be “major” or some similar word. But in most cases, “major” is a word that campaigns want the media to use to help build anticipation — whether it fits or not. The best advice: Avoid or attribute, and if we don’t think the facts support the campaign’s spin, don’t even use the word.

The same goes for describing the speech after it’s delivered. Some questions need to be answered. Who says it was a “major” address? If we’re going to characterize it that way, what’s our proof? How was it anything more than what the candidate usually says?

(“Memmos;” Sept. 1, 2016)

Notes

A Reminder About A Word We Shouldn’t Use And Some More Thoughts On Avoiding Labels #

We said this week that a man was “mentally retarded.”

“Retarded” is not a word we use to describe anyone. It’s among the “words that hurt.”

Joe Shapiro, who has done a lot of reporting and thinking about this, suggests phrases such as “intellectual disability” or “developmentally disabled” and that they be used with a “people first” approach. That is, put the person before the condition. Say “a man with an intellectual disability” rather than “a mentally retarded man.”

If you can’t seem to avoid a label, the AP recommends “mentally disabled,” “intellectually disabled” or “developmentally disabled.” But those aren’t great alternatives, as is often the case with labels.

As for labels, reminders are in order:

No. 1: “It is generally best to avoid labeling people, especially with terms that partisans have chosen.” Use “action words” to describe people rather than pinning them with labels.

No. 2: It’s certainly almost always best “to avoid labeling people who have medical conditions.” As we’ve written before, “it’s better to say someone ‘has been diagnosed with schizophrenia’ rather than ‘is a schizophrenic.’ Or, ‘she is being treated for anorexia’ rather than ‘she is an anorexic.’ Or, ‘he is diabetic,’ instead of ‘he is a diabetic.’ ”

No. 3: Pay particularly close attention to the way you refer to people who have gone through traumatic experiences. We’ve previously discussed the language regarding survivors of sexual assault.

This isn’t about political correctness. It’s about respect for those we report about (and “Respect” is one of our core principles) and it’s about accuracy (another core principle).

(“Memmos;” April 22, 2016)

Notes

Here’s A Way To Stop Me From Nagging You #

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.

For instance:

– 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:

The Ethics Handbook.

The “Memmos.”

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.

Other suggestions:

- 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)

Notes

Be Sure To Ask ‘Experts’ About Connections To The Candidates #

This is already happening, but it’s important not to forget that as we line up experts for two-ways and interviews about public policy issues, we need to know if they’re connected to or publicly support one of the presidential campaigns. A standard question these days should be something like “are you advising any of the campaigns?” Or, “have you been called by any of the campaigns or candidates?” Or, “are you publicly supporting one of the candidates?”

Check with them about connections to public policy groups and advocacy organizations as well.

We look for expertise on a wide variety of subjects that are campaign issues. They include climate change, criminal justice, economics, foreign affairs, immigration, national security and tax policy. The list could go on.

A “yes” response to one of our questions doesn’t automatically disqualify someone, but it is information we need to know, weigh and tell our listeners and readers if it’s decided that person should be part of our report.

Meanwhile, our responsibility doesn’t end with a “no” response from the expert. Trust, but verify. Do some searches to be sure that person hasn’t shown up in stories about “economists who support Smith” or “historians who are advising Jones.” The expert may have an explanation. After all, campaigns sometimes exaggerate their support and academics sometimes sign on to things without quite realizing what they’ve done.

It’s also important to know whether someone has advised candidates or groups in the past. That information may help put the expert’s thinking in context.

How far down the ballot do we need to go? It’s wise to ask whether they’re connected to any House, Senate or statewide races. We would also want to know if an expert in a particular field has gotten involved in a specific story — the Flint water crisis, for example.

(“Memmos;” Feb. 11, 2016)

Notes

Kudos For Some Solid Reporting, Careful Writing & Smart Blogging #

The New York Times is reviewing some of its reporting about the San Bernardino terrorist couple, Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple writes. The Times is looking back at a story that said Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik had “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.”

The Times is examining the story and the anonymous sourcing for that claim because the FBI says it has not found any public social media postings by Farook and Malik that might have “tipped off authorities to the couple’s extremist views,” as The Two-Way writes. Instead, it looks like the couple communicated via emails and private messages.

Whether the communications were public or private is important. Wemple calls it “a gigantic deal” because the Times’ story went on to say that American immigration officials failed to uncover “what Ms. Malik had made little effort to hide — that she talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.” That’s a damning conclusion if the couple had been communicating in the open. If they weren’t doing that, the story went too far.

But this Memmo isn’t just about what the Times did. It’s about what NPR did.

Carrie Johnson, Dina Temple-Raston, Phil Ewing, Martin Kaste, Nathan Rott, Richard Gonzalez, Matt Guilhem, the Two-Way team, the Newscast desk and everyone else who touched the story* stuck to what we were confident we could say and avoided things that weren’t solid. They were precise in their language. For example, we were careful to say federal sources were telling NPR that Malik had posted a message on Facebook “at the time of the shooting.” That information has held up.

Thanks.

Related:

– Precision Writing & Editing: 5 Timeless Tips 
– Be Judicious When Passing Along Breaking News
– Don’t Just Spread Information. Be Careful And Skeptical
– The NPR Accuracy Checklist

*This list is not meant to be exhaustive. If you’re among the “everyone else,” thank you.

Notes

What Did We Say About That? A Guide To The 2014 ‘Memmos’ #

What did Mark annoy us about in 2014? Here are the year’s “Memmos” divided into categories:

ATTENDING RALLIES AND POLITICKING

“Don’t sign, don’t advocate, don’t donate.”

“We don’t participate.”

CORRECTIONS

How we make them and display them, Part I.

How we make them and display them, Part II.

Poynter’s “most notable errors.”

They’re at the bottom of our pages.

“Why do we get some things wrong?” Our most common errors.

GOOD WORK

A well-done poll.

John Burnett’s completeness.

David Folkenflik’s transparency.

Panda triplets!

The Bill Cosby interview.

The Eric Holder scoop.

The 16-year-old in a diaper and why the photo of him was so important.

LABELS AND WHY IT’S WISE TO AVOID THEM

Immigrants.

Medical conditions.

Teenager.

– “Victims” vs. “survivors.” (Particularly in cases of sexual assault.)

LANGUAGE TO USE AND LANGUAGE NOT TO USE

Adjectives and why we kill them.

“Alleged,” “accused” and “suspected.”

“Ambush” and “assassinate.”

“Begs the question.”

Being conversational.

Cliches in general.

“Crash.”

Ebola; infectious or contagious?

“Execute.”

“Farther” and “further.” There’s a difference.

“Garnish” vs. “garnishee.”

Holiday cliches.

“Imagined Elegance.”

– “Immigration” (and related terms).

“Islamic State,” then ISIS.

ISIS and al-Qaida; how to refer to their links.

“Kurdistan.”

“Lay” vs. “lie.”

“Persian Gulf.”

“Reticent,” “reluctant” and other words we abuse.

“So.”

“Taps” and why not to talk over it.

Teenager, I.

Teenager II.

Torture I.

Torture II.

Torture III.

“The” vs. “thee.”

The word “war.”

“Victims” vs. “survivors.” (Particularly in cases of sexual assault.)

Washington’s football team.

OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE

It’s not an English-only thing.

Latest “NPR policy on use of potentially offensive language.”

SOCIAL MEDIA

AP goes short.

AP’s unfortunate “crash lands” tweet.

Guidance for Election Day.

There is no privacy on the Web and retweets may be endorsements.

When you can and can’t tweet about customer service.

STYLE & STANDARDS

Anonymity and why “first-name-only” must be discussed and explained.

First names on second reference.

More on first names on second reference.

Why we didn’t name the Ebola patient.

Pronunciations.

Elvis.

‘TAKING DOWN’ STORIES

Advice on how to fully inform people before we interview them.

How to explain why we don’t do that.

THINGS THAT SHOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN

Attribution I.

Attribution II.

An “abundance of caution” can save us sometimes.

Call “the other side” of the story.

Check things out, even our own reporting.

#Ethicsschmetics.

“For Peat’s sake,” check back with key characters before broadcast.

Get names (why we don’t put random voices on the air).

Good grammar.

It’s “Daylight Saving,” Not “Daylight Savings.”

Minor consent (and the form that needs to be signed).

Naming minors.

Never assume.

Never show stories to sources.

Online credits.

Objectivity.

Plagiarism is “the offense that keeps on repeating.”

Precision writing and editing.

You can’t always believe what you remember.

We work in plain sight.

We’re cynical, not skeptical.

WHERE TO FIND GUIDANCE

We’ve got your guidance right here.

(Memmos; Dec. 29, 2014)

Notes

Something To Think About: Was Michael Brown A ‘Teenager?’ Yes, But … #

Webster’s New World College Dictionary is clear: “teenager … a person in his or her teens.”

But check out this headline: “AP Decides Not to Refer to Brown, 18, as ‘Teenager.’ ” (Richard Prince’s Journal-isms)

“Many outlets continue to refer to [Michael Brown] as a teen or teenager. Now that we know his age, let’s be specific without using a term that can be left up to interpretation.” (AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara)

Basically, the wire service says that once you’ve reached 18, you’re an adult and that to most people a “teenager” implies someone younger than 18.

We’ve used the words “teen” and “teenager” often when referring to Brown.

Should we?

After conversations with a dozen or so editors on various parts of the 3rd floor, it’s clear there are two basic views. There’s a slight majority in favor of No. 2:

1. By definition, Brown was a teenager. So the word applies. He was 18 at the time of his death and it’s just a fact that he was a teen. We can use the words “teen” and “teenager.”

2. But words come with connotations. For many listeners and readers, a “teen” is a youngster or a kid. We could be influencing the way they view the story by introducing that word. We should avoid it.

By now, you may be asking: “What’s the alternative?”

The most common suggestion is “young man.” That also comes with connotations — though they seem to be more appropriate ones in this case. Brown was old enough to vote. He had graduated from high school. He could have gone into the military. As AP might say, he had entered adulthood.

Would we refer to an 18-year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan as a “teen” or “teenager?” Probably not unless we were doing a profile and it felt right to say he was “still in his teens.” But I suspect we’d be more likely to use the phrase “young man.”

The best guidance in this case and others like it that may come along seems to (as it has in other situations) come back to avoiding labels.

So, perhaps we should say and write that Brown was “the 18-year-old shot and killed by a police officer.” Or, that protests continued over the “shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.”

Are we banning the words “teen” and “teenager” for 18- and 19-year-olds? No.

Might we decide sometime that a 17-year-old should be described as a “young woman” or “young man?” Yes.

But is it best to avoid labels and to consider them carefully before using them? Yes.

(H/T to Hansi Lo Wang.)

(Memmos; Aug. 21, 2014)

Notes

Guidance On A Sensitive Subject: Victims/Survivors Of Sexual Assault #

We’re going to be doing more reporting in coming weeks and months about sexual assaults on campuses, the way the cases are handled by universities and legislation that’s working its way through Congress.

There will probably be several words or phrases that we have to consider carefully as the stories develop.

This came up this morning: “Rape victim” or “rape survivor?”

Here’s how we approached the question. The process may provide guidance not only on this particular issue, but on how to think about others that come up.

– First, we have to be careful about referring to someone as a victim or survivor before there’s evidence (police reports, medical reports, etc.) about what happened. Bear in mind that if there’s a victim/survivor, that means we’re telling our audience that there’s an attacker or attackers. We don’t want to be prejudging. When such stories begin, we’re typically dealing with allegations, not verdicts.

– Second, as we’ve said in other cases (immigration, for example), it’s best not to put labels on people. It is better to focus on acts. So, rather than declare that someone is a survivor or a victim, we should describe what happened or what has been alleged. That simplifies the issue. She’s not a “rape survivor” or “rape victim.” She is a young woman “who was raped” or whom “police say was sexually assaulted in her dorm room.” Again, though, be careful not to prejudge.

– But, if there’s a need to choose, we look at the definitions of the words. According to our go-to dictionary, (Webster’s New World College Dictionary), in this case both words apply:

Survivor: “person or thing that survives; specif., a person who has survived an ordeal or great misfortune.”

Victim: “someone or something killed, destroyed, injured, or otherwise harmed by, or suffering from, some act, condition, or circumstance.”

– We could stop there and use either. However, one of our core values involves “respect in sensitive circumstances”:

“NPR journalists show sensitivity when seeking or using interviews of those affected by tragedy or grief.”

That doesn’t mean we automatically refer to people by the terms or words that they want to be called. On matters that are politically charged, we do not adopt the language of one side over the other’s. But we are sensitive to those who have been seriously injured. And if either word is correct, the sensitive choice is the one that respects their feelings. Many of those who have been sexually assaulted make a forceful case that they are not just victims, they are survivors.

So, on this issue, the guidance would be: a) try not to “label; b) either word is correct; but c) “survivor” is more sensitive to those we are reporting about.

(Memmos; July 31, 2014)

Notes

New Guidance On Immigration #

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat in Tuesday’s primary has brought the immigration issue into the news again because of the role it played in the outcome of that race. His opponent accused Cantor of supporting “amnesty” (which Cantor denied). Pundits say Cantor’s defeat means there’s no chance Congress will take up immigration legislation this year.

As we discussed the news today, it became apparent that our guidance on the use of terms such as “illegal immigration,” “illegal immigrants” and “undocumented immigrants” has not been consistent.

Here’s some new guidance for both on-air and online references.

Like The Associated Press and The New York Times, we believe “illegal immigration” is an acceptable term when we’re reporting about the issue.

In other words, if we’re referring to a general class of actions that include entering the  country without going through Customs or staying in the country past a visa’s expiration — the types of things at the core of the debate over immigration policies — “illegal immigration” can be used when discussing the issue.

But we avoid phrases such as “illegal immigrant[s]” and “undocumented immigrant[s].”

How come?

First, we can’t always determine if a specific person or even a group is or is not in the country legally or without documents. So the first words in those phrases — “illegal” and “undocumented” — are assumptions that may not be accurate when used that way.

Second, the words “illegal” and “undocumented” are labels that are being applied by those on both sides of the debate. It is generally best to avoid labeling people, especially with terms that partisans have chosen. We determine what words we use, not those who have agendas.

The better approach takes a few more words. Instead of simply saying these are illegal immigrants, we should describe the kinds of things they’ve done — “overstayed visas,” “scaled fences  at the border to get into the U.S.,” “paid a smuggler to be driven here in the back of a produce truck,” or perhaps simply “people who are believed to have entered the country illegally.”

What about “undocumented?” It’s the word that some advocates favor. But as the AP notes, “it has a flavor of euphemism.” It’s not always accurate either. Many of those who are in the country illegally have some sort of documentation — passports, expired visas, drivers’ licenses, Social Security cards, school IDs, etc.

Another word to avoid: “aliens.” The Times calls it “sinister-sounding.” Websters suggests that in this context an alien is someone who “bears political allegiance” to another country — which in many cases would just be wrong when describing this group of people.

Finally, we do not refer to the group of people as “illegals.” Again, that’s labeling without giving context.

To summarize:

– “Illegal immigration” is acceptable when discussing the issue.

– “Illegal immigrant” and “illegal immigrants” are to be avoided.

– “Undocumented immigrants” is to be avoided.

– “Illegals” is not acceptable.

– “Aliens” is not acceptable.

How this guidance could be applied:

On the air today we said: Immigration “was a big issue in the race. Conservatives simply didn’t believe Cantor’s claims that he opposed amnesty for illegal immigrants.”

Another way of saying that: Immigration “was a big issue in the race. Conservatives simply didn’t believe Cantor’s claims that he opposed amnesty for anyone who may be here illegally.”

Yes, we are making things a bit more difficult and it might seem like we’re parsing words too carefully. Suggestions of better alternatives are always welcome.

Related note: We realize our headline writers face a particularly tough challenge when dealing with stories about this issue. The key may be to focus on the issue, not the individuals, when crafting headlines.

———-

ADDENDUM

Newscast asked for “wrong way, right way” scripts. Here we go:

Wrong way.

Immigration policy is on center stage again after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat Tuesday in his Republican primary. NPR’s Mark Memmott explains why the Virginia congressman’s surprising loss has put the issue back in the political spotlight:

3-2-1

College professor Dave Brat accused Cantor of favoring amnesty for most illegal immigrants. Cantor said he DOESN’T support forgiveness for illegals. But Brat’s charge stuck — he beat Cantor by more than 20 percentage points. Analysts say it was the illegal aliens issue that sank Cantor.

Now, House Republicans are expected to put legislation aimed at overhauling immigration policy on the backburner, says Republican pollster Frank Luntz:

“The GOP is going to hit ‘pause.’ ”

But Democrats may seize on any GOP reluctance to take up the issue, says Democratic pollster Mark Mehlman:

“Any delay is not going to please Hispanic voters.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, there are about 11 million illegal immigrants in the nation.

Mark Memmott, NPR News

—-

Right way.

Immigration policy is on center stage again after House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat Tuesday in his Republican primary. NPR’s Korva Coleman explains why the Virginia congressman’s surprising loss has put the issue back in the political spotlight:

3-2-1

College professor Dave Brat accused Cantor of favoring amnesty for some who are in the U.S. illegally. Cantor said he DOESN’T support that. But Brat’s charge stuck — he beat Cantor by more than 20 percentage points. Analysts say it was the amnesty accusation that sank Cantor.

Now, House Republicans are expected to put legislation aimed at overhauling immigration policy on the backburner, says Republican pollster Frank Luntz:

“The GOP is going to hit ‘pause.’ ”

But Democrats may seize on any GOP reluctance to take up the issue, says Democratic pollster Mark Mehlman:

“Any delay is not going to please Hispanic voters.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security, about 11 million people are in the U.S. illegally.

Korva Coleman, NPR News

(Memmos, June 12, 2014)