Time to Ditch the Term 'Illegal Immigrants'?

The New York Times Building (Getty Images)
The New York Times Building (Getty Images)

After activists picketed the New York Times building Tuesday and delivered petitions with more than 70,000 signatures urging the newspaper to drop the term "illegal immigrant," the Times announced a change in policy. But the National Association of Hispanic Journalists called the change "unacceptable" and cowardly.


Unity: Journalists for Diversity, which includes NAHJ, followed NAHJ on Thursday.

The immigration debate and the accompanying debate over terminology are likely to remain in the headlines. Reform bills are before Congress, and two brothers who immigrated from Chechnya are suspected of carrying out last week's Boston marathon bombing.

"On Tuesday, The New York Times updated its policies on how it uses the phrase 'illegal immigrant' in its coverage," Christine Haughney reported for the New York Times. "The newspaper did not go as far as The Associated Press, and it will continue to allow the phrase to be used for 'someone who enters, lives in or works in the United States without proper legal authorization.' But it encourages reporters and editors to 'consider alternatives when appropriate to explain the specific circumstances of the person in question, or to focus on actions.' " 

Haughney had noted, "This month, The Associated Press announced it would eliminate the use of 'illegal immigrant' entirely. The news agency wrote, 'Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use "illegal" only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant.' "

While the AP style guidelines are widely followed, some news organizations have their own. Among the broadcast media, for instance, ABC News has used the terms "undocumented worker" and "undocumented immigrant," network spokesman Jeffrey W. Schneider told Journal-isms.

Haughney continued, "Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards, who oversees The Times's style manual, made the announcement on Tuesday shortly after a group staged a protest in front of The New York Times headquarters and delivered more than 70,000 signatures to Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The Times, asking her to end the use of the phrase.


"Mr. Corbett said in a statement that editors had spent months deliberating the updated style change. He said he shared these changes 'with key reporters and editors over the last couple of weeks.' He said he recognized how sensitive this issue is for readers. . . . "

NAHJ said in its statement, "The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) is disappointed by the NY Times' carelessness and cowardice on the dehumanizing term 'illegal immigrant.' The Times shift in policy is unacceptable in accurately and sensibly describing a group of hard working people. The Times attempt to have it both ways by 'allowing the phrase to be used' and only 'encouraging reporters to consider alternatives' is unacceptable. Instead of taking an opportunity to show it understands how destructive the term is to Latinos; the publication only demonstrated how disconnected it is to this group."


The protesters included immigration activist Fernando Chavez, eldest son of the late farmworkers' rights leader Cesar Chavez; Jose Antonio Vargas, the former journalist who publicly disclosed his unauthorized status in 2011; and members of the groups MoveOn.org and Presente.org. The Applied Research Center's "Drop the I-Word" campaign also participated.

In a separate development, Luis Miranda, who just stepped down as director of Hispanic media for the Obama administration and is credited with improving access to the White House for Latino media, disclosed Tuesday that he was once an unauthorized immigrant.


"When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a fighter pilot. One of my best friends with the same goal joined the Civil Air Patrol and encouraged me to join, too. I jumped at the chance. But then it happened. I needed a Social Security number and didn't have one. I began to understand what it meant to be undocumented," Miranda wrote in an op-ed piece in USA Today.

A 1986 law "allowed immigrants like myself a path to citizenship," Miranda wrote. [Updated April 25.]


Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post Writers Group: The wise words of Uncle Ruslan

Elise Foley, Huffington Post: Deportations Continue As Congress Seeks Immigration Reform


Juan Gonzalez, Daily News, New York: Boston Marathon bombings used in effort to derail congressional immigration reform efforts

Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: Boston bombing not an immigration story


Fox News a Haven for Talk About Muslim Threats

"In the days following the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News has become a haven for talk about the extreme threats posed to the United States by Muslims," Jack Murchinson wrote Wednesday for the Huffington Post. "Day after day, the network's hosts and pundits have warned about an Islamic menace which is poised to take down the country.


"At the most extreme has been 'Fox News liberal' Bob Beckel, whose call on 'The Five' to bar or severely restrict Muslim students from coming into America seemed to startle even Dana Perino, George Bush's former spokeswoman. Beckel stuck by his comments on Tuesday, saying that some of the 75,000 Muslim students in American schools are likely to harbor terrorist ambitions.

" 'It's a risky situation,' he said. . . . "

Justin Berrier, Media Matters for America: Fox's Bolling: Rep. Ellison Is "The Muslim Apologist In Congress" And "Very Dangerous"


Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report: White Chechens Open New Vistas of Repression in America

Arthur Hayes, USA Today: Boston F-bomb exemption: Column

Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report: Every Day Terror

Andrew Lam, New America Media: Boston Bombers — The Denial of American Grandeur

Asra Q. Nomani, Daily Beast: How American Muslims Can Respond to Boston

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Terror motives likely will never make sense


TJ Raphael, Folio:: Reactions to Time Magazine's Boston Bombing Cover

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Guns and terrorism, a double-barreled standard


Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: The 24/7 news cycle should slow when justice is at stake

Robin Washington, Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune: After suspect's capture, city on a hill shines again


Erik Wemple, Washington Post: CNN: We've instituted 'checks and balances'

DeWayne Wickham, USA Today: 'Mirandizing' Boston suspect was wise

Edward Wyckoff Williams, the Root: Yes, They're White and Muslim

Fired, Then Hired, Clemente Becomes Instant Celebrity

"He was hired. And then he was fired. And now he's been hired — for a night — as a celebrity correspondent," Ann Oldenburg reported Wednesday for USA Today.


"A.J. Clemente, the North Dakota anchor who shot to fame for dropping an f-bomb on the air on his first day on the job only to be immediately fired, stopped by Live With Kelly and Michael today.

"And the two co-hosts offered him a job.

" 'A.J., you know, I've got to tell you, that this clip of you has captivated all of us,' Kelly Ripa told him. 'It's taken us on a wild ride. What exactly was going on in your head when that happened? Were you aware that you were on the air?'


"Replied Clemente, 'I had no clue.' And there was a bleep, even though he didn't curse. The show's control room bleeped him to be funny. . . ."

Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times: "F-bomb" anchor A.J. Clemente visits NBC's Today and Letterman, revealing serious problems with small town TV news


Edward Esposito, Radio Television Digital News Foundation: Memo to AJ: Learn, don't burn

Scott Stump, "Today," NBC: F-bomb anchor: Watching viral clip 'was gut-wrenching'


Meenal Vamburkar, Mediaite: Local Anchor Fired For Swearing On Air Speaks Out About His 'Gut-Wrenching' Mistake On Today

Politico Piece on N.Y. Times Draws Sexism Charges

"Has Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, 'lost the newsroom'?" Tom McGeveran asked Wednesday for Capital New York.


"A story posted last night by Politico's Dylan Byers characterizes Abramson as a woman on the verge of a newsroom breakdown. The culprit is her personality, but also, to be fair, the way that personality has manifested itself in a few decisions, none of which were particularly key decisions.

"Today, the story has readers charging sexist bias, thin sourcing, and a certain naivete about how the great big newsrooms work. I don't think any of these is really applicable to Byers' reporting, but this article does speak volumes about all three issues. . . ."


The Byers article opens with an anecdote about Managing Editor Dean Baquet, the highest ranking black journalist at the newspaper, who was said to have competed with Abramson for the top job after Bill Keller stepped down in 2011.

Emily Bell, the Guardian, Britain: Jill Abramson and the wholly sexist narrative of the woman in power


Nicholas Carlson, Business Insider: Politico's Takedown Of The New York Times Editor 'Doesn't Ring True To Me,' Says Brian Stelter

Jack Mirkinson, Huffington Post: Jill Abramson: 'Very Unpopular' Or Just Doing Her Job?


Hanna Rosin, Slate: You Don't Know Jill

Unity Urges Appointment of Pro-Diversity FCC Chair

Unity: Journalists for Diversity urged President Obama Wednesday "to consider the diversity of America's news coverage and news companies as you evaluate candidates to chair the Federal Communications Commission."


Unity also joined "Fifty organizations, most representing minority constituencies, [who] have asked the White House to nominate two new FCC commissioners, including a replacement chairman — who will make minority and female participation in media a priority," John Eggerton reported for Broadcasting & Cable.

Unity did not urge Obama to appoint a woman of color to the chairmanship, as the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters did this month, but the letter from President Tom Arviso Jr. said, "The next chairman or chairwoman of the FCC will shape the future of news for diverse communities in America"  and named "the principles we believe should serve as core values for any future appointment."


The Unity coalition asserted its opposition to additional consolidation of the nation's media; urged the FCC "to conduct research on tracking the number of minority, women and LGBT owned broadcast stations"; said that "diversity should be measured and factored into approval or rejection of all licensing and re-licensing applications" and that "universal access to the Internet is a basic right."

Eggerton reported, "The White House is said by various sources to be vetting the current nominee for chairman — former cable and telecom association exec Tom Wheeler is said to be the leading candidate — and could announce a nominee, as well as a Republican to be paired with him or her, within the next couple of weeks.


"If commissioner Mignon Clyburn is named interim chair" — she is the senior Democrat after outgoing chair Julius Genachowski — "she could be in that post for several months and have an opportunity to put her imprint on the issue as the first African-American woman chair. . . . "

Unity includes the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.


Unity Joins Fifty Organizations Urging the White House to Nominate FCC Members Committed to Promoting Diversity and Inclusion

Gracie Lawson-Borders Named Dean at Howard U.

Gracie Lawson-Borders, associate dean at the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences and professor in communication and journalism there, has been named dean of the Howard University School of Communications, Howard announced on Tuesday.


Lawson-Borders is a former journalist who worked as a reporter and editor at the Akron Beacon Journal in Ohio, the Oakland Press in Michigan and the Chicago Tribune, the university said.

She succeeds Jannette Dates, who had been dean or acting dean for 17½ years and associate dean for five, and Interim Dean Dr. Chuka Onwumechili, who served in the post for the last year.


Lawson-Borders is also a former director of the African American & Diaspora Studies program at Wyoming and is working on her second book, about digital business models and strategies for media organizations, the university said.

In September, the university Board of Trustees approved two new undergraduate programs and a new doctoral program in the School of Communications as a part of the university’s "academic renewal" efforts.


The new undergraduate programs are strategic, legal and management communications, and media, journalism and film. The doctoral program is in communication, culture and media studies.

The School of Communications has 1,050 students.

Howard Chua-Eoan, News Director at Time, Retiring

Howard Chua-Eoan, news director at Time magazine and time.com, is retiring, Chua-Eoan told Journal-isms by email on Wednesday. He has been with Time Inc. for 30 years.


"I am retiring. But still going to do the occasional project for TIME. In fact, I am about to start on one next week," Chua-Eoan wrote.

Time magazine received the 2012 Thumbs Down Award from the National Association of Black Journalists "for its lack of diversity within its reporting corps," NABJ announced at its convention last year in New Orleans.


"That's why I'm here," Chua-Eoan told Journal-isms at the convention. Chua-Eoan said he was available to meet with potential hires, though he did not have a recruiting booth because Time decided to skip the NABJ career fair in favor of the Unity convention in Las Vegas.

When Steven Gray left last year as Time's last remaining African American correspondent, he praised Chua-Eoan, saying he "brought me to the magazine and is one of the most elegant editors I've ever worked for."


According to a 2002 bio, "Chua-Eoan was an Assistant Managing Editor for TIME and was responsible for both breaking news and religion stories until January 2002 when he became News Director. He was also editor of 'Heroes & Inspirations,' the fifth in the series of six TIME 100: People of the Century issues which profiled the 100 most influential individuals of the past 100 years.

"The weekend editor for the magazine, Chua-Eoan was on duty on Aug. 30, 1997 when news broke of the accident that took Princess Diana's life. He edited and co-wrote stories and organized the 16-hour effort that completely revamped 20 pages of the issue and resulted in the dramatic overnight cover change. Chua-Eoan was also deeply involved in the commemorative issue produced by the magazine the following week that included not only a 40-page tribute to Diana but a six-page appreciation of Mother Teresa that Chua-Eoan wrote. The two Diana covers hold the record for the most copies of TIME sold on the newsstand. . . ."


The bio notes that Chua-Eoan was born in Manila, the Philippines, and came to the United States in October 1979 at age 20.

Short Takes

Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy Jr. devoted his column Wednesday  to the marriage of former colleagues Lynne Duke, who died of cancer Friday at 56, and Phillip Dixon, a former Washington Post city editor and journalism department chair at Howard University. "He looked remarkably content, not distraught as I had expected, but like a man who knew that there was more to this world than meets the eye, that he'd felt the presence of a loving spirit when he needed it most," Milloy wrote of Dixon. Services have not yet been scheduled.


Soledad O'Brien was named a distinguished visiting fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, spending the 2013-2014 year delving into topics related to public education in America, the Huffington Post reported Wednesday. O'Brien left CNN's now-defunct morning show "Starting Point" in March and said she would continue to work with the network by producing documentaries independently with her own production company.

Leon Tucker, a former managing editor at the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill, N.J., a black journalist and one of three senior content editors, left the paper on Tuesday, according to the publisher's office. Tucker succeeded Everett "E.J." Mitchell II in the top newsroom job in 2010. Content Editor Christina Mitchell was named executive editor on Tuesday. Interim Publisher Ellen Leifeld, who had retired as publisher of the Tennessean, has been in charge of the Courier-Post newsroom as part of her duties. Both the Courier-Post and the Tennessean are Gannett newspapers.


CareerCast.com publisher Tony Lee put "newspaper reporter" dead-last in his best/worst job list for 2013, media blogger Jim Romenesko wrote Wednesday, because "There are very few jobs on our list that project negative growth or falling income" and the newspaper reporter position has both. Lee added, "When we say newspaper reporter we mean newspaper reporter; we do not mean a reporter who works for, say, espn.com" or any other digital job.

Rapper Snoop Lion, formerly Snoop Dogg, is "serving as Speakeasy's first-ever special guest editor," according to an editor's note Monday in that section of the Wall Street Journal. "In that role, he wrote the following essay about his reggae transformation, assigned a story on how sports can help at-risk youth, and will answer reader questions that are sent on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSnoop. . . ."


In the Bay Area, Stanley Roberts, the photographer for KRON-TV who was attacked last week filming his "People Behaving Badly" segment in Berkeley, Calif., tweeted the next day, "What disturbs me most about yesterdays attack, with all the people on the street, they 'all' just stood there and did absolutely nothing!" Also, "I am just amazed at the amount of people who think I deserved to be attacked! Just amazed!"

"Homegoings," a film that "explores the African-American funeral home, a 150 year-old institution that is now vanishing," will begin the 26th season of PBS' "POV" series, Evette Dionne wrote Wednesday for Clutch magazine. Filmmaker Christine Turner has been working on the film since 2011.


Simone Weichselbaum, a reporter for the Daily News of New York who was born into a Brooklyn, N.Y., family with German-Jewish and Jamaican roots, has won a Be'chol Lashon Media Award, "established to recognize outstanding journalism depicting the rich diversity of Judaism and the important place diverse Jews have among the Jewish people." She was selected for "her piercing, respectful, accurate and often entertaining reporting of the multicultural borough, in particular its Orthodox Jews and Jews of color."

"For any journalist or journalism student considering working independently, please join us for a webinar featuring print and broadcast journalist Mark Trahant," the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education asks. "Mark has successfully created a profitable niche out of his disparate interests — everything from health care, Native American issues and writing poetry based on the news. He will discuss his business plan, his growth strategies and his pricing plans in a webinar at 2 p.m. Eastern, April 26. To enroll, please go to: http://mije-trahant-042613.eventbrite.com/ NOTE: This webinar will be recorded and can be accessed later by contacting Elisabeth Pinio at epinio@mije.org." Trahant is board chair of the Maynard Institute.


"A press freedom group is demanding that Mexico investigate the disappearance of a crime reporter in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where 12 journalists have been slain or gone missing since 2010," Olga R. Rodriguez reported for the Associated Press on Monday. "The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday urged Mexican authorities to find Sergio Landa Rosado and bring the kidnappers to justice. A colleague tells The Associated Press that Landa went missing Jan. 23. . . ."

Aundrea Murray, 21, a junior majoring in journalism at Central Connecticut State University, wrote in the Hartford Courant Tuesday that she was among a spring break trip to China joined by 23 students and two professors from the university. " 'Celebrity' was what my white classmates used to describe what I and other African American students must have looked like to the Chinese," she wrote. "But I felt far less than a celebrity and much more than just a foreigner. I was a victimized minority in a country besides my own. . . ."


Five public television stations have been awarded a total of $440,000 under the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Ready to Learn program, in which stations are to provide children ages 2 to 8 with digital learning, Andrew Lapin reported last week for current.org. The grantees are Nashville Public Television; New Mexico PBS; KLRU in Austin, Texas; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; and PBS SoCal in Los Angeles.

Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press won a National Headliner Award for local interest column on a variety of subjects [PDF], the Press Club of Atlantic City in New Jersey announced this week.


Raja Abdulrahim of the Los Angeles Times, David Barboza of the New York Times, Najibullah Quraishi and Jamie Doran of WGBH "Frontline" and Clover Films, and Alberto Arce of the Associated Press are among Overseas Press Club of America award winners.

Thanh Tan of the Texas Tribune; Vikki Vargas of KNBC in Southern California; Israel Alfaro and Jenny Martinez of KRGV-TV in Texas' Rio Grande Valley; Serene Fang, Gabriela Quiros and Craig Miller of KQED-FM in San Francisco and the Center for Investigative Reporting; Ryan Vasquez of Alabama Public Radio; Lu Olkowski, Laura Spero, Taki Telonidis and Al Letson of NPR's "State of the Re:Union"; and Alberto Arce of the Associated Press are among  recipients of the 2012 Sigma Delta Chi Awards for excellence in journalism.


"Imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu is the winner of the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize," the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization announced Wednesday. "Ms Alemu was recommended by an independent international jury of media professionals in recognition of her 'exceptional courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.' "

In the Philippines, police said radio announcer Mario Vendiola Baylosis, 33, was shot dead by two motorcycle gunmen in a daring broad daylight Monday in the southern Filipino province of Zamboanga Sibugay, the Mindanao Examiner reported on Monday.


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