Wednesday, April 03, 2013

AP Style: Illigal immigrant, murder

Two welcome changes from AP in recent days just before the American Copy Editors Society conference in St. Louis.

illegal immigrant: The wire service has dropped the term, unless used in a quote, explaining that "illegal" should be used only referring to an action, not a person. From the AP:

Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission. Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented. Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution. Specify wherever possible how someone entered the country illegally and from where. Crossed the border? Overstayed a visa? What nationality? 
Notably, the AP isn't adopting the "undocumented immigrant" language that is just as controversial in anti-immigration circles. Still this marks a big victory for groups that for years have been protesting the term. The New York Times is also considering the change.

murder: The stylebook now reinforces what many of us have preached in editing classes for years - don't say someone was "charged with murdering." Say "charged with murder in the killing of" ...

Having said that, I don't expect newsrooms to rush to get it right, especially TV. Kudos to those that are professional enough to do so.

I wonder if AP will announce anything else major at the ACES meeting.

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