"Illegal" Descriptors of Undocumented Rejected by Journalism Society

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The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) just voted to do something that I thought was already set in stone in American newsrooms (drop use of the term "illegal alien"), but the organization also forbid a term I'd figured was the P.C. alternative ("illegal immigrant").

Based on a recommendation forwarded by its Diversity Committee, SPJ decided at its just-concluded convention in New Orleans that only a court of law can decide when an individual has committed an illegal act.

The Society of Professional Journalists, formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi, is one of the oldest organization representing journalists in the United States and is dedicated to the free practice of journalism.

Diversity Committee member Leo Laurence had suggested as alternative terms "undocumented workers" or "undocumented immigrants" (which I thought was already set in . . . oh, never mind). That was originally rejected by SPJ's Resolutions Committee, which recommended taking the matter to the Associated Press stylebook committee, which last year concluded "illegal immigrant" is correct usage. The AP Stylebook is the bible for correct word usage in American newsrooms, although some (including OC Weekly) do tweak some entries to account for local style.

The AP had found alternatives like illegals, illegal alien and undocumented worker lack precision or bring to the minds of readers negative connotations when it comes to describing people in the U.S. unlawfully due to residency or citizenship requirements.

But Rebecca Aguilar, who belongs to SPJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, made an emotional plea at the convention to reject any terms that include "illegal" because they are offensive to Latinos like her mother who were once in the country unlawfully but later became citizens.

The final resolution that was passed outlawed "illegal" descriptors but also offered no alternative terms.

Needless to say, groups like the conservative Accuracy in Media are not exactly bullish on the resolution.

"The only people offended are those in the SPJ who disagree with the efforts of those who are fighting the illegal immigration problem in this country," writes AIM's Don Irvine. "By passing this resolution they are clearly taking a political stand on the issue, which brings into question their desire for objectivity when reporting the news."

The resolution follows on the next page:


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15 comments
Nutrax2005
Nutrax2005

What does one do when a person calls himself "illegal". Am I report him or can I wait now for a court judgment to the fact?   

Frida Kahlo's unibrow
Frida Kahlo's unibrow

Newspeak at its best.  Meanwhile the terms "Wetback", "Taco Bender", "Chili Hugger", "Cactus Rat", "Donkey Pilot", "Depot Homie", "Mexitard", are approved for usage.

mitch young
mitch young

I hope you are using 'outlawed' ironically.

Pretty amazing when journalists, supposedly committed to the truth, voluntarily create their own newspeak. Eric Blair must be turning over in his grave.

cook
cook

I guess the correct term now is "foreign invaders" ?

909Jeff
909Jeff

If you enter the county illegally that's a misdemeanor thus you are here illegally...

If you are in a country that is not your country of origin then you are alien to that place, therefore are an alien.  (Apply Immigrant thusly)

Combine the two and that makes me insensitive?

The AP Stylebook is the bible for correct word usage in American newsrooms, although some (including OC Weekly) do tweak some entries to account for local style.  

I might be going out on a limb here Coker, but I dont think "Tweak" is a strong enough adjective.

bigriggs
bigriggs

More complete bullshit from the PC police.

mitch young.
mitch young.

if you want to get together and find some mexicans to suck off let me know

mitch young
mitch young

LOL at the monikker...and "donkey pilot"

Santillan Cristina
Santillan Cristina

To mexican muy estupido, the term "human filth" is too general because then you would fit in to it just perfectly....

Jack Grimshaw
Jack Grimshaw

Methinks you have some newspaper experience? May we enquire of what variety/where etc? (PS: "House" style rules! Blowjob, one word; hand job, two words. Capiche?)

909Jeff
909Jeff

Nope, Just a blow hard (two words) with a keyboard and an opinion.  I actually work in financial services. 

909Jeffsboss
909Jeffsboss

Shut the fawk up and get back to work before i skull you in your truck again!

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