The Associated Press’ Developing, Conflicted Policy on the I-word

by Project Censored
Published: Last Updated on

On October 19th, 2012 the Associated Press’ Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production released an updated guide for how to cover immigration titled  HYPERLINK “ \ released”“Reviewing the use of ‘illegal immigrant.’” Tom Kent, the AP’s Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production, wrote that recent discussions about the i-word have given the AP an opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings about its policies and reinforced “the importance of reporting clearly and precisely about this sensitive subject, where there is a distinct danger of broad-brushing people and making incorrect assumptions.”

The guide is a not clear. This is the AP’s most nuanced guide on the topic, which includes excellent best practice recommendations for journalists that do not include the term “illegal immigrant” in most instances. That fact makes the AP’s choice to keep using “illegal immigrant” all the more contradictory. The guide also includes some missteps along the way to that conclusion. Kent offers incorrect statements about immigration law and the reasons he gives for journalists to steer away from “undocumented” and “unauthorized” are unfounded.

Most glaringly, the guide brushes aside the dehumanizing aspect of the i-word. Leading journalists, linguists and attorneys have rejected the i-word, based on their fields of expertise. Efforts to drop the i-word are backed by UNITY, the largest organization bringing together journalist of color, and by one of the most esteemed Spanish language journalists in the country Univision’s Jorge Ramos.

A call to stop using the term has been issued to the AP by Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. There have been significant takedowns of the i-word by the country’s  HYPERLINK “”leading linguists,  HYPERLINK “”by the National Immigration Law Center and by many others in the legal community, including  HYPERLINK “”this awesome legal primer on the i-word by immigration attorney David Bennion.

As of November 19th 2012, There has been no corporate television news coverage regarding the AP’s use of the word illegal.  The AP is set to release its first ever Spanish style book in November of 2012.   NBC and ABC internet news outlets are now jumping into the style debate. These outlets are using opinion sections to report of the campaign to drop the use of the word illegal.  The corporate media coverage doesn’t mention the dehumanizing aspect of the use of the word illegal.

Title: The Associated Press’ Developing, Conflicted, Policy on the I-word

Source; Colorlines, October 23, 2012

Author: Novoa, Monica

Student Researcher- Amanda McNulty (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Charles McAuley (Sonoma State University)