Mark Memmott

We agree with The Associated Press on this:

"Do not refer to the child of unmarried parents as illegitimate. If it is pertinent to the story at all, use an expression such as whose parents were not married." 

In 2011, when he was NPR's public editor, Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote that "illegitimate" and other "pejorative birth labels attached to children were never fair."

With the 2020 campaign underway, here are some reminders from the Ethics Handbook about publicly expressing political opinions.

The section on impartiality has the guidance and it applies to NPR employees inside and outside the newsroom (more on that below). Some of the highlights:

- "We don't put political bumper stickers on our cars."

- "We don't sign political petitions."

- "We don't donate money to candidates."

If you need to refer to the proposed citizenship question for the 2020 census, contact Hansi Lo Wang or Luis Clemens before doing so. One of them should review what you plan to say or write because the history of such questions is complicated.

They will tell you, for example, that:

As Newscast and Colorado Public Radio have reported, the 16-year-old suspect in the STEM school shooting is being charged as an adult – as is the 18-year-old suspect.

As we've covered the new abortion law in Georgia and legislation in Alabama, we've followed long-standing guidance very well. Thank you to all involved.

For those new to the subject, that guidance about abortion and related topics is collected in our Intranet "radio" style guide. We'll attach it below.

As we report on measles outbreaks and outbreaks related to other vaccine-preventable diseases, it's important to stick to the science — and to use neutral language in describing peoples' positions.

Media outlets, schools, interest groups, movie studios and others often approach NPR journalists to ask about rebroadcasting, reprinting or otherwise reusing our material.

All such requests must be forwarded to "Permissions@npr.org." That directs them to our colleagues in Legal and begins a process that will include consultation with the Standards & Practices editor and, in many cases, other senior editors.

In a tweet this morning, the president uses the word "bullshit" to characterize some of the "statements made in the 'Report' about me."

As with yesterday's guidance about an F-bomb, our position is that we're not going to say the word on the air. If we do refer to the line, we can say he called some of the statements "B.S.," but should make clear that he used the actual word.

There is evidence in the Mueller report that the president asked some aides to lie about his actions.

When reporting about this, frame it as "evidence," not proof, that the aides were "asked to lie." And attribute the evidence to Mueller's investigation.

We are not going to repeat on the air this quote attributed to President Trump in the Mueller report:

"I'm fucked."

When talking about it, we can clean up the quote by turning it into "I'm F-ed." But we will also need to make clear to listeners that he used the actual word.

Meanwhile, less is more. "I'm F-ed" and discussions of that quote do not need to be part of all our Mueller-related reports.

Note: online we write "I'm f***ed."

Like an Election Day, this is another time to remind everyone about the social media rules of the road when there's a big story about to break.

Borrowing from our post from last November, here is guidance on how to (and not to) respond to news regarding the redacted Mueller report:

-- You will be tempted to tweet, post to Facebook and otherwise express yourself on social media. There's probably a lot you'd like to say ...

As Thursday's release of a redacted version of the special counsel's report draws near and as we report about it afterward, there's a phrase we do not need to say, write or put in headlines:

"It's Mueller Time."

Others have used that supposedly funny twist on an old ad slogan many times. It's played out. We've avoided it and should continue to do so.

There's excitement at the Standards & Practices desk this afternoon. "You've Got A Friend" is looping in my head, thanks to this post from Holly Morris on the training team:

5 Techniques To Spell Any Name Correctly, Every Time

Be warned. It's April Fools' Day. We have to be on guard against those who would like us to believe their fake news. View things even more skeptically than usual.

Also, if you think you have a funny idea for an April Fools' story, you're too late. If we do one, we only do one, and if it exists it's already been approved. Sorry, Korva.

Thank you, everyone, for your work on covering the mass shooting in New Zealand.

As we continue to cover the news:

With former Rep. Beto O'Rourke entering the presidential race this is a good time to remind everyone about our policy on subsequent references to people in our news reports.

He, for example, is "O'Rourke" — not "Beto" — in later references. Just as Sen. Bernie Sanders is "Sanders," not "Bernie." And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is "Ocasio-Cortez," not "AOC."

Coming off the recent Buzzfeed report about what President Trump supposedly told Michael Cohen to do, we're underscoring how we handle such stories and who directs our coverage.

When another media outlet has what looks to be an important scoop based on an unnamed source or sources:

- The deputy managing editor who is on duty brings together the appropriate desk head(s), and one or more of the following: SVP of News (Nancy Barnes); VP for News (Sarah Gilbert); Executive Editor (Edith Chapin).

The questions to consider include:

Make sure your clocks spring forward an hour this weekend, and make sure you say or write that most of the U.S. is switching to "daylight saving time," not "daylight savingS."

If you do add that second "s," you will be robocalled at 2 a.m. Sunday and at other annoying hours until April 1. Fair warning: The message that Korva has recorded is not in her usual "everything's cool" tone of voice.

Also remember this (from the National Institute of Standards and Technology):

We wrote this week that a radar technician in Alaska is "unphased by the solitude and pace of work" at the sites he visits.

A reader reminds us that the correct word is "unfazed."

As for Spock, one might say he was "unphased" when a Klingon took his weapon. But when writing about how Spock reacted to being disarmed, the word is "unfazed."

In the statement he's expected to deliver this morning, Michael Cohen twice uses the word "shithole." It is possible that word, and others that are offensive, will also come up during the question-and-answer portion of his testimony.

For at least 80 years, some Republicans have referred to their major opponents as members of the "Democrat Party," not by its name — the "Democratic Party." It's a jab suggesting that the party is not democratic.

At NPR we "avoid loaded words preferred by a particular side in a debate."

We refer to the party by its name: the Democratic Party. Its elected officials are Democratic senators, governors, etc.

This is not new guidance.

We've gotten it wrong in the past, so with Venezuela and Colombia in the news here's a reminder.

Colombia – the country, that is – is not spelled with a "u." Save the "u" for when you're writing about the District of Columbia or the company that makes sportswear.

Make sure the country is spelled correctly in scripts, tweets, Facebook posts, Web stories and headlines. And don't forget DACS. Remember, your words might end up on car dashboards and the ticker that runs around this building.

If we report further about the investigation into alleged sexual abuse in Southern Baptist churches, do not refer to those who attend the churches as "parishioners."

As The Associated Press says about the word, it describes a "member of a parish, an administrative district of various churches, particularly Roman Catholic and Anglican. Do not use for Judaism or non-hierarchal Protestant denominations."

Among the alternatives to describe those who attend the Baptist churches are "members," "congregants" and "worshipers."

Gerry Holmes' note this week about Parkland anniversary coverage included an important reminder that we want to reinforce.

Superlatives such as "first," "worst" and "deadliest" should be avoided or only used after careful consideration, rigorous fact-checking and in moderation.

One reason is simple. As we've said many times, we're bound to be wrong. Superlatives are among our most common sources of mistakes.

If you're going to refer to who's next in line should the governor of Virginia resign, and who would be next if there's no lieutenant governor, and who would be next if there's no attorney general, here's how to explain the "line of succession":

The lieutenant governor is "first" in the line of succession. The attorney general is "second" in the line of succession. The speaker of the House of Delegates (Republican Kirk Cox) is "third" in the line of succession.

There are surely many lessons to be relearned from the media's coverage of the video showing Kentucky high school students and a Native American singer/drummer at the Lincoln Memorial.

This one is very important:

We don't necessarily have to report about such videos until we have more to say than that they exist.

Keep in mind:

- One video may not tell a complete story.

- It's very likely we won't know how it was edited.

- We may know nothing about the motivations of the person who made the video.

With high-profile marches happening today and this weekend, here are links to our thinking about why we don't get involved and what is and isn't OK:

- We can go see what's happening, but can't "participate."

- Taking part could "raise questions about NPR's independence and impartiality."

Remember checks? Those things you used to write when you were paying bills?

The start of a new year was always the time when you'd date one with the wrong year. Then you'd have to rip it up and start over.

The start of a new year is also the time when it's easy to make a mistake in a story by saying something happened "last year."

Yes, this is obvious — but please remember that 2017 is no longer "last year."

The word "divisive" has been coming up often lately, and we seem to be dih-VYD-id about how to say it.

Fortunately, someone in years past dih-VYZED a solution for us.

From our pronouncers database:

divisive — dih-VY-sihv

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

We will continue to work on reducing mistakes (and therefore the number of corrections we post) in 2019.

Meanwhile, here is Poynter's annual corrections roundup. We didn't make the list this time.

"The funny, the weird and the serious: 33 media corrections from 2018"


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