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Affordable Care Act pamphlet at Metropolitan Family Health Network, Oct. 3, 2013, Jersey City, N.J. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

The Associated Press and NPR have decided to cut back on use of the term "Obamacare," with NPR describing the word as seeming "to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular."

Stuart Seidel, NPR's managing editor for standards and practice, issued his style ruling Tuesday after this columnist contended in a note to him that the term can no longer be defended as neutral.

Separately, the AP went further and said the name of the health-care law, the Affordable Care Act, was also prejudicial in that "its very name is promotional; opponents believe it will not be affordable for individuals or the country. . . ."

Tom Kent, deputy managing editor and standards editor, wrote Tuesday, "In AP news reports, our preference is to use wording like 'the nation's new health insurance system,' 'the health care overhaul' or 'the new health care law.' "

Kent wrote, " 'Obamacare' was coined by opponents of the law and is still used by them in a derogatory manner. It's true that the White House, and even [President] Obama himself, have used the term on occasion. But the administration hasn't totally embraced 'Obamacare' and still uses the Affordable Care Act much of the time. We're sticking with our previous approach to 'Obamacare': AP writers should use it in quotes, or in formulations like 'the law, sometimes known as Obamacare, provides for …' "

The health care law dominated the news this week as enrollment for new online health insurance exchanges opened on Tuesday, generating visits by 2.8 million people to the healthcare.gov website and more to others maintained by states. The number of visits was so high that many frustrated consumers could not get through.

At the same time, House Republicans demanded that the law, referred by most of them as "Obamacare," be delayed, leading to an impasse that resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government. That sent hundreds of thousands of federal workers from their workplaces and provided more opportunities for journalists to use the "Obamacare" term, which many justified because the president, in a bid to co-opt the word, had begun using it himself.

NPR's ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, explained on Sept. 6 why NPR was using Obamacare.

Seidel said in that piece, "the term 'Obamacare' has lost its pedigree as a politically charged term."

Schumacher-Matos concluded then, "It is safe to say, in other words, that the term 'Obamacare' has entered the general vocabulary as a largely neutral term. How most of us understand it depends on what we think of the law, and of the president."

However, this columnist wrote Seidel, in Obama's Tuesday speech decrying the government shutdown, the president used the term "Affordable Care Act" 10 times but never used "Obamacare."

By contrast, in a House debate on Saturday night, all the Democrats used "Affordable Care Act" and all the Republicans "Obamacare" for the time this viewer was watching. It was consistently "Obamacare" again on Tuesday as Republicans spoke after Obama's speech.

Moreover, since the Sept. 6 piece was written, the president acknowledged that "Obamacare" was still partisan and still negative.

Last Thursday in Largo, Md., Obama said of the law, "once it's working well, I guarantee you, they will not call it Obamacare."

Seidel replied, "You make some good and fair points. I appreciate having them raised. I’m not persuaded that the use of 'Obamacare' is wholly inappropriate, but I am persuaded that good effort needs [to be] made to avoid over-using it. I’m sharing that feeling with NPR's editors and correspondents."

Seidel's memo said, " 'Obamacare' seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular. And it seems to be on our air and in our copy a great deal. (I haven't counted, and I'm not going to count: numbers don't add up to good journalism.) But word choices do leave an impression. Please avoid overusing 'Obamacare.' On first reference, it's best to refer to the 'Affordable Care Act' or 'the health care law.' On later references, feel free to use 'Obamacare' but mix it up with other ways to refer to the law."

Journal-isms asked other news organizations for their policies on use of the term. Responses indicated that many had not caught up with NPR and the AP.

NBC: A spokeswoman who did not want to be identified said that once the administration started using the term "Obamacare," the network decided it was acceptable.

Los Angeles Times: Spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said, "LA Times reporters and editors may consider 'Obamacare' as an acceptable term for the Affordable Care Act. In recently revising our guidelines, senior editors responded to staff requests to allow the usage, in light of widespread public understanding of the term and the use of the term even by the White House and supporters of the act, not just opponents." She said the revision took place last week.

"PBS NewsHour": Anne D. Bell, public relations manager, said, "Guidelines are to use Affordable Care Act as the first reference and then in subsequent references ACA, health care law or 'Obamacare' are acceptable alternatives."

Chicago Tribune: Joe Knowles, associate managing editor/editing and presentation, said he sent the following style entry to his staff on Wednesday: "Obamacare Note the lowercase 'c.' Acceptable in references to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is frequently shortened to the Affordable Care Act. Try to use the formal or shortened formal name of the law somewhere in the body of a news story. Allow columnists and editorial writers greater license." Knowles told Journal-isms, "We are still urging people to try to get the official name in the body of the story somewhere, preferably high up."

New York Times: Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy  said, "There is no written policy in the Stylebook and we use both terms frequently."

"First thing: 30 percent of the public don't know what ACA is, vs. only 12 percent when we asked about Obamacare. More on that later," Steve Liesman reported.

"Now for the difference: 29 percent of the public supports Obamacare compared with 22 percent who support ACA. Forty-six percent oppose Obamacare and 37 percent oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives. . . ."

"Despite the fact that Republicans were refusing to fund the government if the White House balked at the demand to essentially repeal its 2010 health care law, Allen suggested President Obama would be the real political loser.

"Why Obama? Because he's more famous than the GOP congressional leaders whose actions are causing the impasse.

" 'A lot of people in the country don't know John Boehner. There's no one in the world who doesn't know Barack Obama,' Allen explained. 'So when Washington is not working, it's going off the rails in a very visible way, a way that is vivid and touches people, that's not good ultimately for the president.'

"That's an awfully tenuous path to blame Obama for the Republicans' proudly obstructionist strategy to stop funding the government.

"Yet so it goes within portions of the Beltway press corps who are straining to include Democrats in the shutdown blame game; to make sure 'both sides' are targeted for tsk-tsk scoldings about 'Washington dysfunction,' and that the Republicans' truly radical nature remains casually ignored. This media act is getting old. And this media act may be emboldening the Republicans' extreme behavior. . . ."

Dan Froomkin agreed Tuesday in a piece for Al Jazeera America. "U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms," he wrote. "It is supposedly the result of a 'bitterly divided' Congress that 'failed to reach agreement' (Washington Post) or 'a bitter budget standoff' left unresolved by 'rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers' (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy. . . ."

Charles Babington and Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press: Shutdown gives Obama unlikely ally: Big business

James E. Causey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Give 'em the boot, Barack!

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Obamacare debate shows indifference of haves toward have-nots

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune: Congress doesn't reflect America's choice

Lewis W. Diuguid, Kansas City Star: Victims in federal shutdown will keep growing

Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Obamacare crippled by computer bugs on a forgettable day 1

Emil Guillermo blog, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Shutdown Government: American Democracy Is Breaking Bad

Eric Hananoki, Media Matters for America: Fox Fix: In AP Reports, "Shutdown" Becomes "Slimdown"

Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review: Exchange Watch: Telling half a story about the federal exchanges

Kelly McBride, Poynter Institute: Don't call it an impasse, stalemate, or standoff

Brendan Nyhan, Columbia Journalism Review: The roots of the shutdown fight

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Washington's 3-party Congress

Jessica Prois & Eleanor Goldberg, HuffPost BlackVoices: How Government Shutdown Hurts The Most Vulnerable, And How You Can Help

Michelle Singletary, Washington Post: Health-care rollout as expected, not as planned

David Swerdlick, The Root: Obama Has Compromised Already

Armstrong Williams blog: Republican firing Squad!

 

Nina Davuluri, the 2014 Miss America and the first Indian American to wear the crown, is scheduled to participate in the annual awards gala Saturday of the South Asian Journalists Association.

Sovy Azhath, president of the association, which has "nearly 700 active paying members," told Journal-isms by email that a "fellow SAJA board member booked Miss America for our gala -- Nina seemed willing and excited to attend."

Soledad O'Brien is scheduled to be keynote speaker and Kevin Negandhi, an anchor on ESPN SportsCenter, is to be master of ceremonies. The event, to be held at the Yale Club of New York City, is sold out, but the association is establishing a waiting list. "The capacity for this year's event is 150 and we have reached that number of guests on sept 28th," board member Jigar Mehta told Journal-isms by email.

CNN regional bureau chiefs Darius Walker, Pete Janos and Mary Lynn Ryan have been promoted to vice president, Terence Burke, vice president of newsgathering for CNN/U.S. told the CNN staff on Tuesday. There is no change in their duties, a CNN spokeswoman told Journal-isms.

Walker is chief of CNN's largest national bureau, based in New York, which includes 105 people from Maine to Indiana, according to a bio prepared by the New York Association of Black Journalists.

"He also oversees the business and financial news resources for CNN USA," Walker wrote in his LinkedIn profile. "Prior to his New York assignment, Walker was the senior director of newsgathering for CNN's Washington, D.C., bureau.

"Walker previously served as vice president of CNN Business News, where he managed business news coverage for CNN, CNNfn, Headline News and CNN Radio; served as supervising producer for CNNfn's Atlanta operations and as senior producer for the business news program, Lou Dobbs Moneyline. From 1996 to 1998, Walker worked for CNN's national desk in Atlanta as a senior editor and producer. . . ."

Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek editor who as executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide became the highest-ranking African American at CNN, resigned in January, saying he wanted to give then-new CNN chief Jeff Zucker "his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff." No African American held a position at that level under Zucker.

"WUSA9 weekday noon anchor J.C. Hayward -- once called a 'news anchor legend' by the Washington Post -- is among several people being sued by District [of Columbia] Attorney General Irv Nathan for their alleged roles in taking more than $3 million from a D.C. public charter school ," Will Sommer reported Tuesday for Washington City Paper.

"Former officials at Options Public Charter School, including the chief executive officer and chief operating officer, are accused of extracting money from the 17-year-old school through extravagant salaries and sweetheart contracts with companies they controlled. The District wants the school to be placed in receivership, with the assets of some defendants -- although not Hayward's -- frozen.

"JC Hayward told WUSA9 she did nothing wrong, and all she did was sign bills in her capacity as chair of the charter school's board, and that she received no money. She says she resigned from the school's board last week.

"WUSA General Manager Mark Burdett says Hayward has been relieved of her duties at WUSA pending further investigation."

Hayward was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011 [video.]

"When people ask Celeste Seda, 26, what she is, she likes to let them guess before she explains her Dominican-Korean background," Lise Funderburg writes in the October issue of National Geographic. The author of "Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity" (1994), Funderburg composed an essay that accompanies photographs of multiracial people by Martin Schoeller.

Funderburg's "The Changing Face of America" piece continues, Seda "points out that even then she has revealed only a fraction of her identity, which includes a Long Island childhood, a Puerto Rican adoptive family, an African-American sister, and a nascent acting career. The attention she gets for her unusual looks can be both flattering and exhausting. 'It's a gift and a curse,' Seda says."

Funderburg adds, "If we can't slot people into familiar categories, perhaps we'll be forced to reconsider existing definitions of race and identity, presumptions about who is us and who is them.

"Perhaps we'll all end up less parsimonious about who we feel connected to as we increasingly come across people like Seda, whose faces seem to speak that resounding line from Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself':

" 'I am large, I contain multitudes.' "

Making his argument that "while the decline of journalism coincides with the rise of the Internet, the Internet may not be the primary cause at all," Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn., with a Monday-Friday circulation of 37,668, included this paragraph Saturday:

"Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households -- two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they're living in, and couldn't afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population. . . "

"Reached by email, Powell said he is 'out of the country on personal business' and hasn't had time to look at reaction to his column," Andrew Beaujon reported Tuesday for the Poynter Institute. " 'Maybe today,' he writes."

The Hartford Courant answered Powell Wednesday with an editorial, "Chris Powell Can't Pin Newspaper Woes On Welfare Moms."

"The cause was lymphoma, said his daughter, Paula Fouce.

"Mr. Fouce was a co-founder of the Spanish International Communications Corp., which operated the first Spanish-language television stations in the United States, including KMEX-TV, Univision’s flagship outlet and the No. 1 source for Spanish-language news and entertainment in Los Angeles. . . . "

About three weeks ago, the Washington Post Co. sent an email to 63 newsroom employees who have received stock-option bonuses in recent years. Those options are now worth a substantial amount (more than $630 per share at present value), Jim Romenesko reported Wednesday on his media blog. "The person at the paper who sent the email inadvertently disclosed the names of all recipients, I'm told, and now 'there's a sense of haves and have nots, winners and losers' in the newsroom," Romenesko wrote. He listed the recipients, including Ariana Cha, David D. Cho, Hayley M. Tsukayama, Kenisha R. Malcolm, Kevin E. Merida, Terence Samuel, Nikita R. Stewart and Krissah S. Thompson. Meanwhile, "Amazon.com founder and chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos formally took over as the owner of The Washington Post on Tuesday, officially ending 80 years of local control of the newspaper by the Graham family," the Post's Paul Farhi reported.

"If Jay Pharoah had his way, there would've been a black female cast member on Saturday Night Live yesterday," Courtney Garcia wrote Friday for the Grio. "Actually, he's got someone on stand by for whenever the producers give him a word." Garcia also wrote, "Since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, no African-American woman has been cast on the Saturday night stronghold, and along with Kenan Thompson, Pharoah remains the only other black actor and on a show with 16 cast members. . . ."

"Mashing up Paula Deen, the Trayvon Martin trial and the NYPD's controversial stop-and-frisk practices in one episode might seem like a stretch, but Law & Order: SVU executive producer Warren Leight says it makes sense," Michael Schneider wrote Tuesday for TV Guide. " 'They're seemingly different stories, but they all involve race,' Leight says of the episode," which was to air Wednesday on NBC.

"Morgan State University will formally launch its new School of Global Journalism and Communication on October 3 with events that [coincide] with the university’s annual Homecoming celebration," the NorthStar News & Analysis reported. As part of the activities, a "symposium will analyze media coverage of pivotal events from 1963 such as the March on Washington, the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and NAACP Field Director Medgar Evers, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church and the Children's Crusade in Birmingham, as well as campaigns in the city of Baltimore to integrate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park and the Northwood movie theater, the latter located across from the Morgan State campus." Separately, Richard Muhammad of the Nation of Islam's Final Call newspaper profiled Dean DeWayne Wickham.

"Al Día newspaper in Dallas is celebrating its 10 year anniversary," Veronica Villafañe reported Monday for Media Moves. "The Belo-owned sister publication of the Dallas Morning News was launched Sept. 29, [2003] as a paid daily newspaper, Monday-Saturday. At the time of the launch, Gilbert Bailón was the founding publisher, Mike Cano, the founding General manager and Alfredo Carbajal, the founding Managing Editor. Both Gilbert and Mike have moved on, but Alfredo remains at the paper. . . ."

"Northwestern University's journalism school boasts of its prowess in preparing students for prestigious careers -- but it also serves as a pipeline for unpaid internships," Kara Brandeisky reported Tuesday for ProPublica. "At Medill, students pay $15,040 in tuition for the privilege of working full-time jobs as unpaid interns. During their mandatory quarter in Journalism Residency, as it is known, students work full time at news organizations such as CNN Documentaries, Self and WGN Chicago. But instead of paying interns, employers pay Medill $1,250 for every student placed. . . ."

On Sept. 11, the Crimson White at the University of Alabama published an investigative piece, "The Final Barrier: 50 Years Later Segregation Still Exists," Kelly McBride reported Tuesday for the Poynter Institute. "The story documented a rush process in which members at several sororities actively tried to pledge" a well-qualified black woman, "only to be thwarted by their alumnae and advisers. The story caught fire on social media. Jezebel linked to it the next day. Within a week, CNN, USA Today, The New York Times and The Guardian of London had published similar stories. It's a remarkable piece of journalism for three reasons. . . ."

"Yale has dropped charges of criminal trespassing against a Brazilian journalist apprehended last week for allegedly attempting to enter a private meeting and misrepresenting her intentions to Yale Police officers," Isaac Stanley-Becker reported Tuesday for the Yale Daily News. "Claudia Trevisan, a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for O Estado de S. Paulo, spent three and a half hours in a New Haven prison Thursday night, she said, after being handcuffed and escorted out of Woolsey Hall. . . ."

"Amid violent protests in Sudan last week, authorities asked journalists to refrain from publishing news that they said would 'disturb the public,' according to news reports," the Committee to Protect Journalists reported Tuesday. "Several journalists were subsequently detained and multiple outlets shut down, news reports said. . . ."

"Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by the complete absence of the rule of law and lack of security in Libya, and by the impact this is having on the work of journalists, and calls on the authorities to ensure that recent serious attacks and kidnappings of media personnel do not go unpunished, . . ." the press freedom organization said on Tuesday.

In Venezuela, "Globovisión, a TV station that is used to being harassed by the National Communications Commission (CONATEL) and other government agencies, has been the target of a new CONATEL investigation since 30 September," Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday. "The station is facing a possible fine of up to 10 per cent of its annual income for its coverage of the shortages of food, electricity and other essentials that Venezuela is currently suffering. Those affected include the print media, especially local newspapers, which are finding it hard to obtain newsprint. . . ."

"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Saturday's murder of a Colombian newspaper vendor who had collaborated with journalists on exposing misbehavior by guards at a local prison, and calls on authorities to investigate," the press freedom group said Tuesday. "Unidentified gunmen shot José Darío Arenas, 31, multiple times in the town of Caicedonia in the western province of Valle del Cauca, according to news reports. . . ."

"The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a decision by Tanzanian authorities to suspend two leading private Swahili dailies on accusations of sedition," the press freedom group said on Monday. "The government issued a statement on Friday suspending Mwananchi and MTanzania for 14 and 90 days respectively. . . ."

Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.