The fact that the
Before we get to them, let's make it clear that we are talking about expressions that should be used in straight news stories, as opposed to opinion columns - such as this one - where journalists should enjoy a greater flexibility to play with words to express their personal feelings.
As we have been writing here for several years, the term "illegal immigrant" is unfair and demeaning, because no human being is "illegal." A driver who speeds is not an "illegal driver," nor is a person who doesn't pay the rent an "illegal tenant." At long last, the new AP Stylebook recognizes that there are illegal actions, not illegal people.
Even worse is the use of the word "illegals" as a noun, which dehumanizes undocumented immigrants and paints all of them as dangerous criminals.
"There are other terms, such as "chain migration," or "'anchor babies," or "'the flood of immigrants," that are used every day in the press, despite the fact that the number of undocumented immigrants has fallen in recent years," says
But there are other terms that are used daily in the media, such as "gun control," that also deserve closer scrutiny.
When we in the media publish headlines about the "gun control" debate, we are indirectly buying the
Instead of talking about the "gun control" debate, we should be talking about the "gun violence" debate. Incidentally, the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms, but it doesn't say we have the right to have semi-automatic rifles.
Or take a much more common journalistic practice: identifying all presidents, including dictators who have not allowed a free election in decades, as "President," or "leader."
I have always wondered why we insist on describing
There is no dictionary in the world that would not define these three characters as dictators. For the record, my
(I'll tell you a little secret: many U.S. news organizations won't call ruling despots as "dictators" until they die, because they don't want their reporters to be denied visas to enter these totalitarian states.)
Which brings me to the mother of all contentious terms, which is not being questioned by virtually anybody in
"America," or "the Americas," is the Western Hemisphere. When Columbus discovered the New World, his first stops were The
When I mentioned this to my friend
"You are right, the term "American" has overtones of cultural arrogance," Wasserman said. "We don't even have a term for 'estadounidense' in English."
My opinion: We should not move toward an overly politically correct journalistic lingo that ends up depriving most terms of much of their meaning (I still prefer "handyman" or "handywoman" to "handyperson.") But language defines the message, and language is an evolving phenomenon.
It was about time that the AP - where I worked for several years - made the change. I don't think I will see the AP replacing "America" with "
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