Friday, March 26, 2010

A Change in Nomenclature

The editors at National Public Radio has decided to no longer use the terms pro-life and pro-choice. Instead, when referencing the topic of abortion, they will refer to people who are either "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" or "abortion rights opponent(s)." This is a very distinct switch in nomenclature and is an interesting development. I'm not exactly sure what my opinion on the topic is - but I'd be interested to hear what others have to say. To follow is the text of the memo NPR sent out to their staff on the topic:
NPR News is revising the terms we use to describe people and groups involved in the abortion debate.

This updated policy is aimed at ensuring the words we speak and write are as clear, consistent and neutral as possible. This is important given that written text is such an integral part of our work.

On the air, we should use "abortion rights supporter(s)/advocate(s)" and "abortion rights opponent(s)" or derivations thereof (for example: "advocates of abortion rights"). It is acceptable to use the phrase "anti-abortion", but do not use the term "pro-abortion rights".

Digital News will continue to use the AP style book for online content, which mirrors the revised NPR policy.

Do not use "pro-life" and "pro-choice" in copy except when used in the name of a group. Of course, when the terms are used in an actuality they should remain." [An actuality is a clip of tape of someone talking. So if a source uses those terms, NPR will not edit them out.]


David Sweeney
Managing Editor

1 comment: said...

I think that the phrase "abortion rights" is as far from neutral as it gets! NPR would have been better off keeping the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice." Even though I find the term "pro-choice" to be deceptive (pro WHAT choice?), NPR could at least say that it was impartially using the name each group assigned to itself.