The Associated Press Stylebook, the traditional journalist stylistic handbook used in reporting for decades, has caused controversy over new updates that have right-leaning journalists and politicians worried about potentially biased language.
The AP annually updates its stylebook to give journalists suggestions on style and grammar. These changes are often analyzed and publicized, but the current updates have some people particularly concerned.
On Tuesday, Fox News host Shannon Bream listed changes that have some people questioning if the objective is to censor words more likely to be used by conservatives.
“The AP Stylebook tells people to change ‘pro-life’ to ‘anti-abortion,'” Bream reported. “‘Militant,’ ‘lone wolves,’ or ‘attackers,’ those are the preferred terms rather than ‘terrorist’ or ‘Islamist.’ And ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘undocumented,’ well those are no longer considered acceptable words.”
Dave Hoppe, former chief of staff to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), discussed the significance of language and the AP’s changes along with the campaign director at the Center for Progress Action Fund, Emily Tisch Sussman:
“The thing you have to look at is that use of language is a very powerful tool. And to make choices like this, and I think in some cases bias choices like this, is something you have to watch very carefully,” Hoppe said. “In extreme cases, this is actually censorship. So one has to be careful and be fair to use the language that both sides like.”
One change that seems to be causing the most controversy is the disparity between “pro-life” and “anti-abortion.”
“It’s important to have a distinction if you are anti-abortion, pro-abortion, or pro-choice. There are people who can be anti-abortion and pro-choice, that is possible,” Sussman said. “So I think it’s important that we have clear guidelines.”
Watch the video below for more on this debate:
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