Submitted by cl_admin on Fri, 11/11/2011 - 11:15
This week our Drop the I-Word Friday Friend is YOU!

For many journalists and media outlets, the Associated Press stylebook is the go-to guide for professional and ethical writing. But although the Associated Press updated its stylebook just last week, they still insist on using the i-word to define people. Luckily, until Tuesday, November 15, AP is asking readers to make suggestions for the changes we want to see for the 2012 edition of the stylebook. 

Yesterday we asked people to take action to let the Associated Press know that it’s time they drop the i-word, and many of you have already stepped up and made your voices heard. But we still need more!

You are our Friday Friend when you take action. Not only is “illegal immigrant” dehumanizing and racially charged, it’s inaccurate, not legal terminology and not conducive to understanding the immigration debate. The Associated Press is outdated and behind the times. Let them know that today. 

CLICK HERE NOW TO TAKE ACTION. Deadline for submissions is Tuesday, Nov. 15. You can cut and past the sample text below. Also, please note that when you’ve sent your submission you will be sent a confirmation email. Be sure to follow through and click on the link within the email to complete the action!

Sample text:
Dear AP Stylebook editors,

Even back in the 70s, the Carter administration did not use the terms “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien.” And now, Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justice Sotomayor don’t use the terms. “Illegal immigrant,” oversimplifies the complexities of immigration. Using the word “illegal” to describe an immigrant puts journalists in the position of being judge and jury. It casts all immigration cases as black and white and leaves little room for this most complicated law’s nuances. 

Here is an example of a different policy: Never use the shorthand “illegals” as a noun. Do not use the terms “alien,” “criminal alien,” “illegal immigrant,” “illegal worker,” or related terms except in quoted matter; the terms are pejorative, incorrect and biased. Do not use the slur “anchor baby” to refer to a child of immigrants. Use accurate and nuanced descriptors that are specific to the stories of the people you are writing about. Preferred terms include:
    • Immigrant
    • Undocumented immigrant
    • Unauthorized immigrant
    • Immigrant without papers
    • Immigrants entering without inspection
    • Immigrant seeking status
    • Citizen child of undocumented immigrants
    • It is acceptable to use migrant or foreign national; when possible use a specific reference to nationality (e.g.: Briton, Cambodian, Canadian, Jamaican, Mexican, Pakistani).
The Society of Professional Journalists recently passed a resolution for members to stop using “illegal alien” and to re-evaluate use of “illegal immigrant” which the SPJ’s diversity committee advises against using because it is unconstitutional, offensive and dehumanizing to the people it describes. Plus, several papers have already dropped the i-word, including: The Miami Herald, The San Antonio Express News, New Haven Register, Middletown Press and The Register Citizen.

S. Leigh Thompson