Periodically, we like to update you on the changes made to the Associated Press Style Handbook. We dive deep into it to find the nuggets of information that might be relevant to things you’re writing about on campus.
- Seeks to truly represent all people around the globe. It gives voice and visibility to those who have been missing or misrepresented in traditional.
- It helps readers and viewers both to recognize themselves in our stories, and to better understand people who differ from them in race, age, gender, class and many other ways.
- Among the considerations: the stories we choose to convey; the sources we talk with; the images we select; the framing, approach and specific words we use; the details we include or don’t include. All of those various parts of a story can be seen and interpreted very differently, depending on a person’s background and experiences.
- Growing numbers of people, including some transgender, nonbinary, agender or gender-fluid people, use they/them/their as a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun.
- As much as possible, AP also uses they/them/their as a way of accurately describing and representing a person who uses those pronouns for themself.
- Do not presume maleness in constructing a sentence by defaulting to he/his/him.
- When necessary, use they rather than he/she or he or she for an unspecified or unknown gender (a person, the victim, the winner) or indefinite pronoun (anyone, everyone, someone). But rewording to avoid a pronoun is preferable. For example: The foundation gave grants to anyone who lost a job this year (instead of anyone who lost their job).
- A singular they may also be used when an anonymous source’s gender must be shielded: The person feared for their own safety and spoke on condition of anonymity.
- Both people with disabilities and disabled people are acceptable terms, but try to determine the preference of a person or group.
- When possible, ask people how they want to be described. Be mindful that the question of identity-first vs. person-first language is vital for many.
- Do not use euphemisms, such as handi-capable, differently abled or physically challenged, other than in direct quotations or in explaining how an individual describes themself.
- Do not use handicap for a disability or handicapped for a person.
- Limit use of the term disorder other than in the names of specific conditions, as well as words such as impairment, abnormality and special.
- Avoid writing that implies ableism: the belief that abilities of people who aren’t disabled are superior.
- Avoid “inspiration porn” — stories or photos meaning to portray something positive or uplifting, with the unintended implication that a disability is negative and that disabled people are objects of pity or wonder.
Gender, sex and sexual orientation
- Gender refers to internal and social identity and often corresponds with, but is not synonymous with, sex. Experts say gender is a spectrum, not a binary structure consisting of only males and females, that can vary by society and change over time.
- Sex refers to biological characteristics, such as chromosomes, hormones and reproductive anatomy, which can also vary or change in understanding over time, or be medically and legally altered.
- Since not all people fall under one of two categories for sex or gender — as in the cases of nonbinary and intersex people — avoid references to both, either or opposite sexes or genders.
- Relatedly, not all people use gendered pronouns such as his or hers. Such pronouns are often an example of gender expression, but they do not always align with typical or stereotypical expectations of gender and are not certain indicators of someone’s gender identity.
- Reporting and writing about issues involving race calls for thoughtful consideration, precise language, and discussions with others of diverse backgrounds whenever possible. This helps to frame coverage appropriately and know what language is most appropriate, accurate and fair.
- Avoid broad generalizations and labels. Race and ethnicity are one part of a person’s identity. Identifying people by race and reporting on actions that have to do with race often go beyond simple style questions. This challenges writers to think broadly about racial issues before having to make decisions on specific situations and stories.
- Be aware that some words and phrases that seem innocuous to one group can carry negative connotations. These can even be seen as slurs, to another. As with all coverage, be sensitive to your varied audiences and their different perceptions of language and the larger world.
Some new items and revisions:
- Critical race theory
- An academic framework dating to the 1970s. It centers on the idea that racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions and that those institutions maintain the dominance of white people.
- The theory is a way of analyzing American history through the lens of racism.
- It has become a catch-all political buzzword for any teaching in schools about race and American history, and a rallying cry for some conservatives who take issue with how schools have addressed diversity and inclusion.
- The theory itself is not a fixture of K-12 education. Explain the term when used.
- Don’t use CRT on later references.
- Minority, racial minority
- The term is acceptable as an adjective in broad references to multiple races other than white in the United States (We will hire more members of minority groups).
- Do not use minority as a noun in the singular.
- Limit use of the plural minorities unless needed for reasons of space or sentence construction.
- Phrasing such as minority students or minority groups is preferable.
- Black(s), white(s)
- Do not use either term as a singular or plural noun. Instead, use phrasing such as Black people, white people, Black teachers, white students.
- Black and white are acceptable as adjectives when relevant.
- Black Lives Matter
- A global movement launched in 2013 after the acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin with a goal to eradicate systemic racism and white supremacy and to oppose violence committed against Black people.
- Either Black Lives Matter as a noun or the Black Lives Matter movement is acceptable.
- BLM is acceptable on second reference.
- Some respond to the Black Lives Matter movement by saying “all lives matter” or “blue lives matter,” the latter in reference to police officers. Neither is a formal movement, so lowercase and enclose in quotes.
- Historically Black colleges and universities
- U.S. colleges and universities established before 1964 with the mission of educating Black Americans.
- HBCUs is acceptable on second reference and in headlines.
- HBCU is acceptable as a modifier on second reference: HBCU students.
- Refer to an individual school as a historically Black college or a historically Black university. Don’t use HBCU for one college or university.
- Arab American
- No hyphen for this and other dual-heritage terms.
- Acceptable for an American of Arab descent.
- Native Americans, American Indians
- Both are acceptable terms in general references for those in the U.S. when referring to two or more people of different tribal affiliations.
- The term Natives is acceptable on second reference. For individuals, use the name of the tribe; if that information is not immediately available, try to obtain it.
- Native, Natives
- Acceptable on second reference for Native Americans. Also acceptable as an adjective — Native music, Native art — but if the story is not generally about Native Americans, use Native American music, Native American art, etc.