Accuracy in Media

Should journalists stop using the term “illegal immigrants” when referring to those who unlawfully pass through or reside in the United States?  The Society of Professional Journalists seems to think so.

World Net Daily reports that Leo Laurence, a writer with the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), has written a column urging journalists to stop referring to “illegal immigrants” in order to “remain faithful to the principles of our U.S. Constitution.”  Laurence argues that under the Constitution, the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty, so therefore, “only a judge, not a journalist, can say that someone is an illegal.”

Yet, as Alana Goodman of the Culture and Media Institute  writes:

“Drunk drivers are also innocent until convicted in a court of law – and yet the Miami Herald headline ‘Miami police cracking down on drunk drivers’ hasn’t warranted a similar critique from SPJ’s civil libertarian crusaders. Car theft, too, is considered a crime that must be adjudicated through the legal system. But when the AP reports that ‘Newport News police want to reduce car thefts,’ does the SPJ consider this a violation of the constitutional rights of the car thief community.”

WND points out that the style book for the Associated Press states that “illegal immigrant” is the “preferred term, rather than ‘illegal alien’ or ‘undocumented worker,’” and that the term is to be used to describe “those who have entered the country illegally.”

Laurence quotes the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) as recommending that the term “illegal immigrant” be replaced with “undocumented immigrant” or “undocumented worker.”

“Avoid using ‘illegal(s)’ as a noun,” the NAHJ states.

Yet, as Goodman points out, “The SPJ diversity committee says ‘undocumented immigrant’ is a more appropriate description. Yet living in the U.S. without any documentation of citizenship is illegal.”

It appears that “undocumented” and “illegal” in this case are synonymous; the major difference is the connotation.

H/T Gateway Pundit

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