Accuracy in Media

The Society of Professional Journalists voted this week to impose even more political correctness when they passed a resolution to urge newsrooms to drop the terms “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrant,” saying that only courts can decide when a person has committed an illegal act.

Last year SPJ Diversity Committee member Leo Laurence suggested that instead they should be referred to as “undocumented workers” or “undocumented immigrants.”

The committee introduced the resolution at the Excellence in Journalism convention in New Orleans, and was boosted by an emotional plea by Rebecca Aguilar, a member of SPJ and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Aguilar said that the terms insult Latinos who are or who had once been in the U.S. illegally, citing the case of her mother who became a citizen in 1980.

That’s right. It’s insulting to be called illegal when you broke the law by entering the country illegally. Heaven forbid that we should insult criminals.

The Resolutions Committee originally rejected the proposal and recommended that it be brought to the stylebook committee of the Associated Press. This makes sense because the stylebook is a style and usage guide for newspapers and the newspaper industry.

Instead the SPJ Diversity Committee tweaked the original language of their resolution to something that was acceptable.

When this issue arose last year, the AP’s deputy standards editor David Minthorn told The Blaze that they were standing by the use of the term “illegal immigrant.”

“The AP Stylebook created its entry on ‘illegal immigrant’ in 2004, in response to renewed debate over border security and the enforcement of immigration laws after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.” “Together, the terms describe a person who resides in a country unlawfully by residency or citizenship requirements. Alternatives like undocumented worker, illegal alien or illegals lack precision or may have negative connotations. Illegal immigrant, on the other hand, is accurate and neutral for news stories.”

That makes perfect sense to me but apparently not to the SPJ Diversity Committee, which submitted the following resolution:

“WHEREAS, the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics urges all journalists to be ‘honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information’ and;

“WHEREAS, mainstream news reports are increasingly using the politically charged phrase ‘illegal immigrant’ and the more offensive and bureaucratic ‘illegal alien’ to describe undocumented immigrants, particularly Latinos and;

“WHEREAS, a fundamental principle embedded in our U.S. Constitution is that everyone (including non-citizens) is considered innocent of any crime until proven guilty in a court of law and;

“WHEREAS, this constitutional doctrine, often described as ‘innocent-until-proven-guilty,’ applies not just to U.S. Citizens but to everyone in the United States and;

“WHEREAS, only the court system, not reporters and editors, can decide when a person has committed an illegal act and;

“WHEREAS, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists is also concerned with the increasing use of pejorative and potentially inaccurate terms to describe the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in the United States;

“THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Society of Professional Journalists convention of delegates: urges journalists and style guide editors to stop the use of illegal alien and encourage continuous discussion and re-evaluation of the use of illegal immigrant in news stories.”

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. 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.

But apparently this doesn’t violate the SPJ’s Code of Ethics which never mentions the word objectivity. It only asks journalists to test for accuracy and to not deliberately distort stories.

No wonder media bias still runs rampant today.

(h/t richard prince)

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