Guidance: If ‘We’ Are Not Part Of The Story, Keep ‘Us’ Out Of It

Words such as “we,” “our” and “us” are sometimes being used in ways that they shouldn’t.

It isn’t appropriate, for example, to be discussing U.S. policy about a particular conflict and say “we” support one side over another. We — that is, NPR — report about such policies. We don’t make them or endorse them.

A news report isn’t the right place to say that “our” civil rights have been violated by the government. That’s language for an op-ed.

The Ethics Handbook offers this guidance:

“Strive to use words and phrases that accurately deliver information without taking sides on emotional or political issues.”

“We,” “our” and “us” can create the impression that a reporter has taken sides.

In some cases, the right substitute is as simple as “Americans” or “taxpayers.” Other times, it might be a couple words, such as “U.S. forces” or “the administration.”

Remember, “there’s no cheering in the press box.”

(Memmos; May 27, 2015)

May 27, 2015

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