Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
A new entry in The New York Times’ stylebook on “illegal immigrant”.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of advocates against the use of the term “illegal immigrant” gathered outside The New York Times building in Times Square to deliver a petition of protest. Organizers said the petition, which asked the paper to stop using the phrase contained more than 70,000 signatures collected online.
And here is the new entry, (by way of Poynter, if you’re looking for context):
illegal immigrant may be used to describe someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization. But be aware that in the debate over immigration, some people view it as loaded or offensive. Without taking sides or resorting to euphemism, consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions: who crossed the border illegally; who overstayed a visa; who is not authorized to work in this country.
Unauthorized is also an acceptable description, though it has a bureaucratic tone. Undocumented is the term preferred by many immigrants and their advocates, but it has a flavor of euphemism and should be used with caution outside quotations. Illegal immigration, because it describes the issue rather than an individual, is less likely thanillegal immigrant to be seen as troubling.
Take particular care in describing people whose immigration status is complex or subject to change – for example, young people brought to this country as children, many of whom are eligible for temporary reprieves from deportation under federal policies adopted in 2012.
Do not use illegal as a noun, and avoid the sinister-sounding alien.
Jonathan Peters and Frank Lomonte in The Atlantic’s College Journalists Need Free Speech More Than Ever:
This is not your father’s journalism industry.
NBC News has a Storify page, the New York Times has a Tumblr, and PBS has a Pinterest board. The Associated Press has built a partnership with dozens of news companies to collect royalties from aggregators. The Wall Street Journal has produced original videos for YouTube, and the people formerly known as the audience can submit photos to CNN through its iPhone app.
In short, the two argue that today’s college journalists are being asked to fulfill community needs for professional news, but are not provided with the legal assurances of safety that professionals are afforded.
For years, they explain (and applaud), there has been a growing consensus that journalism programs ought to become something like teaching hospitals for news production:
* In a 2010 report on sustaining democracy in the digital age, the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy concluded that colleges and universities needed to enhance their roles as “hubs of journalistic activity.”
* In a 2011 report on twenty-first century journalism, the New America Foundation challenged journalism programs to become “anchor institutions involved in the production of community-relevant news.”
* In a 2011 report on the changing media landscape, the FCC Working Group on the Information Needs of Communities recommended that foundations fund “journalism-school residencies” for recent grads to manage “efforts to produce significant journalism for the community, using journalism school students.”
* In a 2012 letter to university presidents, leaders of six of the nation’s largest foundations argued that journalism programs must “recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators” and that “universities must become forceful partners in revitalizing an industry at the very core of democracy.”
But they worry about the impacts of such legislation as Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, a 25-year-old Supreme Court decision that has been extended to college settings by four federal courts of appeals covering 16 states. It states, in short, that educators may regulate school-sponsored speech “so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” An open invitation to limit free speech.
Peters and Lomonte make two suggestions:
Read the full piece here.
FJP: This is a discussion I’ve had both in college, when I was editor of our campus news magazine, and in J-school. I’ve seen undergraduate students repeatedly hesitate to produce hard-hitting pieces that criticize their university because they can’t rely on their work for the school publication to remain uncensored by the school administration. In J-school—and I’m lucky enough to attend the big C, which has the resources to protect its students in certain cases—legal protection is certainly not available in the same way it is at many news organizations. Yet in both places, I’ve witnessed students repeatedly called upon to produce professional work and serve well-reported, fact-checked news to their local communities.
What worries me the most, however, is a potential cultural byproduct of these limitations: I worry about the impact these constraints have on the development of a student’s ethical framework and confidence as a reporter during his or her most formative years as a young journalist. How many potentially brilliant investigative journalists are we discouraging by limiting their opportunity to freely practice at the university level? Happy to see The Alantic cover this, and happy to see California, Illinois and Oregon’s statutes.—Jihii
Journalism ethics is nothing more than a measure of the scurrilousness your brand will bear. That’s it. Ethics has nothing to do with the truth of things, only with the proper etiquette for obtaining it, so as to piss off the fewest number of people possible.
We received a question some time ago from theinsightfulmouse which went like this:
I am planning an undergraduate thesis on the effects of technology on journalism ethics and looking to narrow my topic. Do you all have any ideas or suggestions of interesting, complex issues to research relating to journalism, ethics and technology?
Well, insightful mouse, there is a universe of interesting questions in the realm of journalism ethics, especially regarding online journalism. We’ll offer you some starting points for research rather than fleshed out ideas, because those will very much depend on your personal interests and investments.
You might like to search our Tumblr archive for ethics posts. We’ve written, for example, about the ethics of news vs. reviews, privacy on social media, linking, curation, and Instagram, all of which are debates that have since developed and could use more digging. Also see our transparency tag, which is something that you can deep dive into for a number of questions. Other great places to explore for ideas are the Public Editor’s Journal over at the NY Times, and Poynter’s Everyday Ethics.
Very useful (and fun, if you geek out over this stuff like me) is reading the ethics guidelines of various news organizations (here is a great list), many of which address online journalism. NPR has a great ethics handbook in which the visual journalism section deals with issues of digital attribution and manipulation (not necessarily the most compelling research topic, but useful to bookmark if you’re a journalist). Finally, and arguably the mecca of these questions, can be found in this discussion that Poynter hosted on journalism ethics in the digital age, on which a book is also in the works—I wrote a reaction here. The people involved are also key people you might want to reach out to help focus your ideas.
You did ask this question some time ago, so if you’ve already narrowed down a topic, do share it with us! —Jihii
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