Accuracy in Media


Following last week’s announcement that the Associated Press was adjusting its Stylebook and dropping the use of the term “illegal immigrant,” USA Today issued a memo last night that largely followed the AP’s example.

From: Coon, William
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 6:16 PM
To: USAT ED Virginia Staff; USAT ED Field Staff

Subject: Change in USA TODAY style on illegal immigration

You probably have heard that the Associated Press recently changed its style on the term illegal immigrant. Starting tonight, USA TODAY is also changing its style. It is not exactly the same as AP’s, but the upshot is that we will no longer use the term illegal immigrant outside of direct quotes. Here’s the new style:


illegal immigration

The term illegal immigration is acceptable, but do not label people as illegal immigrants, except in direct quotes. Undocumented immigrant, undocumented worker and unauthorized immigrant are acceptable terms — depending on accuracy, clarity and context — for foreign nationals who are in the country illegally. An alternative is to use a phrase such as “people who entered the U.S. illegally” or “living in the country without legal permission.”

Avoid using the word alien to refer to immigrants, except in quoted matter or official government designations. Do not use illegal or illegals as a noun. It is considered pejorative by most immigrants. Migrant can be used instead of immigrant in a tight space.

Heaven forbid that we offend anyone who has entered the country illegally.

h/t Romenesko

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