Like Other Loaded Language, ‘Catch And Release’ Is For Others To Use

There have been a few occasions recently where some listeners thought it sounded like we were using the phrase “catch and release” as if it’s a neutral description of what happens to some people who have entered the country illegally.

But any phrase that compares something done to human beings to something done to animals is not neutral. It is phrasing meant to frame the debate.

As we say in the Ethics Handbook, NPR journalists should:

“Strive to use words and phrases that accurately deliver information without taking sides on emotional or political issues. Politically loaded language not only violates our commitment to be fair, but also gets in the way of telling good stories. It makes readers and listeners stop to consider whether we’re biased in favor of one side or the other.”  

In practice, that means if we do refer to “catch and release” we need to attribute and explain. For example:

- John Burnett said U.S. border agents use the phrase “derisively.”

- Domenico Montanaro attributed the phrase to “Trump and conservative critics.”

(“Memmos;” June 28, 2018)

June 28, 2018

Comments are closed.