[Air-L] Consider telling TODAY the AP to stop using 'illegal immigrant' in style book

Debashis Aikat daikat at email.unc.edu
Tue Nov 15 08:24:16 PST 2011

I am forwarding this message from my colleague, Professor Lucila Vargas, 
[lcvargas at email.unc.edu] of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass 

>From Dr. Lucila Vargas [[lcvargas at email.unc.edu]

Dear All,

The AP Stylebook editors are asking for suggestions on what to change. The 
deadline is TODAY. It takes a minute.


NAHJ suggests to use "undocumented person."  I prefer NOT to use "undocumented" 
as a noun.

The following text is an edited version of an email from Adelante, a Latina/o 
advocacy organization, which explains why journalists and editors shouldn't use 
the term illegal"



"Despite pushback from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists1 and 
the Society of Professional Journalists 2, the AP still uses the phrase illegal 

There are few words in the media that have done more damage to our community 
than the word illegal. Phrases like "illegal immigrant" make it easier for 
states like Alabama to pass horrific laws that treat people like me as less 
than human3.

Whats important for the AP to know isnt just that the word illegal is 
dehumanizing and unfairly applied to Latinos, but its also legally innacurate. 
For every other legal matter journalists are very careful not to act as judge 
and jury. That is why, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, journalists 
always use the words like alleged when discussing an individual crime.
Journalists and the AP, however, have not applied the same standards to 
immigrants, judging them as illegal before theyve ever been determined as such 
by any court of law.

Tell the AP to stop acting as judge and jury and stop dehumanizing our 
community with the word illegal.

If you need tips for what to write to the AP see this helpful guide from the 
folks at the Drop The I-Word campaign:


1. NAHJ Urges News Media To Stop Using The Term 'Illegals' When Covering 
Immigration." NAHJ.org. 9/10/2009.

2. "Society of Professional Journalists: Reporters Shouldnt Use Pejorative 
Terms Like 'Illegal Immigrant.'" Forbes. 9/30/2011

3. Please Tell Alabama to Stop Attacking Latino Children. Presente.org.

Debashis 'Deb' Aikat, Ph. D.
Associate Professor and Media Futurist
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
CB # 3365, Carroll Hall 374
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3365

Phone: 919 962 4090 (office)
Fax: 919 962 0620
Email: da at unc.edu

URL: http://jomc.unc.edu/faculty-staff-journalism-faculty/aikat-debashis

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