Don Surber notes that the Diversity Committee at the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ) has decided to crusade against use of the term “illegal immigrant.” Meanwhile, the Associated Press, who's stylebook dictates much of the language used by journalists, is standing by the term:
The Diversity Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists doesn’t like the phrase “illegal immigrants.”
First, journalism is a trade. There are only four professions recognized by law in West Virginia: the clergy, the law, medicine and the military.
Second, word games are beneath journalists.
Matthew Boyle of the Daily Caller asked the brass at the Associated Press about the AP Stylebook calling them “illegal immigrants.”
From AP’s deputy standards editor David Minthorn: “The AP Stylebook created its entry on ‘illegal immigrant’ in 2004, in response to renewed debate over border security and the enforcement of immigration laws after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Together, the terms describe a person who resides in a country unlawfully by residency or citizenship requirements. Alternatives like undocumented worker, illegal alien or illegals lack precision or may have negative connotations. Illegal immigrant, on the other hand, is accurate and neutral for news stories.”
The SPJ's response?: “The Associated Press is wrong. Their stylebook is wrong … It is not consistent with the Constitution.” Consistent with the constitution? What is the SPJ's Diversity committee talking about?
But I can tell you first hand that the SPJ stopped being a professional organization that cares about enforcing the consitution long before this happened. In October, the SPJ went around impugning the reporting of the Examiner after we pointed out they had been silent regarding the death threats against Molly Norris, the editorial cartoonist behind “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” Matt Welch at Reason magazine reported the details of the Examiner's run-in with the SPJ, and summed it up thusly:
I don't expect journalism organizations to share my priorities. But I do expect them to do more than raise an eyebrow when a cartoonist goes into hiding after being threatened with death, then act all bitchy when someone calls them out on it.
Until the SPJ puts actual threats to freedom of the press above wrongly presenting niggling politically correct matters of language as an important constitutional matter, their idea that they represent professional journalists is highly debatable.