For obvious reasons, journalists get a lot more worked up about changes in the Associated Press Stylebook — the defacto writing guide for newspeople — than normal people, but occasionally a change signals a cultural or ethical shift in a buttoned-down profession.
On Friday, the AP offered new guidance on race.
Specifically, the language arbiter told news organizations to call racism what is.
The terms racism and racist can be used in broad references or in quotations to describe the hatred of a race, or assertion of the superiority of one race over others.
Identifying people by race and reporting on actions that have to do with race often go beyond simple style questions, challenging journalists to think broadly about racial issues before having to make decisions on specific situations and stories.
The AP also suggested getting rid of the term racially-charged, a weak-kneed euphemism used by news organizations who know what racism and racists look like, but don’t want to be pinned down on it.
Will the change lead more news organizations to use the “R word”? Probably not. Editors have never needed AP’s permission to call racism by its given name.