“The Los Angeles Times has announced new guidelines for covering immigration.
“The goal is to “provide relevance and context and to avoid labels.”
“That means stories will no longer refer to individuals as “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants,” but instead will describe a person’s circumstances.
“A memo from The Times’ Standards and Practices Committee announcing the change explains the move away from labels:
” ‘Illegal immigrants’ is overly broad and does not accurately apply in every situation. The alternative suggested by the 1995 guidelines, ‘undocumented immigrants,’ similarly falls short of our goal of precision. It is also untrue in many cases, as with immigrants who possess passports or other documentation but lack valid visas.”
“Though this is a change in written guidelines, the philosophy is already in practice in The Times.”
Now, I don’t know where these yahoos went to journalism school, but the examples they give are so idiotic and such glaring examples of pussyfooting circumlocution that it boggles the mind. They ACTUALLY give an example where, instead of saying that someone is a “Filipino illegal immigrant” or “illegal immigrant from the Phillipines” they say–and this is a DIRECT QUOTE:
“… she and her family had moved here a decade ago from the Philippines without papers.” (!!!)
Without papers! What is she, a fucking Lhasa Apso? Jesus!
The word “illegal” is a valid one and has a meaning. No. Really. See?
It means “not according to or authorized by law.” So if an immigrant sneaks into the United States from Mexico or Canada or Cuba or France or Iceland or wherever and they have NOT gone through proper, sanctioned, LEGAL channels to do so, their presence is…wait for it…”not according to or authorized by law.”
Which, again, is the definition of ILLEGAL! Come on! This is easy logic and basic English! The kind that they must teach even in California’s overrated high schools.
But they say they want to avoid “labels.”
**PAUSE DURING WHICH PEOPLE RIGHTFULLY SNICKER AT WEST COAST, NEW AGE BULLSHIT**
Well, I’m sorry, Kierkegaard…er, I mean, major American newspaper in a large city, but you have to use labels sometimes because “label” is another word for “ADJECTIVE.” And provided you care AT ALL about the reader’s time or the cost of newsprint, you’ll try to keep “context” to a level that makes sense.
I mean, I could write:
“Serial killer Ted Bundy was executed in Florida.”
But where is the RELEVANCE and CONTEXT there? Isn’t “serial killer” just a label? Should I write–using your examples as guidance:
“Ted Bundy, a man who took great pleasure and psychosexual satisfaction in violently ending the lives of women on a somewhat regular basis, was executed in Florida”?
This slippery slope these news outlets have started down is so embarrassingly Orwellian–a regular theme in our culture lately–that it seems superfluous and redundant to even point it out.
“Illegal” becomes “undocumented” becomes…some diaphanous directive about “context.” All the while the Ministry of Truth continues to re-write normal people as repressed hatemongers and they do so by offering as little context as they can get away with while fabricating labels hand over fist.
“Patriot group”; “Tea Party operative”; “Southern Evangelicals”; “Ex-Military”; “Gun Rights Activist”; “Born Again Christians.” Shit, I even heard “Native-born Texan” used one morning on CNN to imply someone hated Mexican immigrants! The editors and producers don’t feel compelled to use context when they show a guy in a Caterpillar hat and label him a “Southern Evangelical.”
But when Eduardo sneaks into America from Nicaragua in the trunk of a Dodge and has an accident on the loading dock that kills someone, as much back story as possible should be in the story and “labels” are to be avoided.
You know what there aren’t enough of? Earthquakes.