SPJ Says It’s Time To Stop Using “Illegal Alien”


Steve Myers of Journalisms wrote an article about the Society of Professional Jornalist’s resolution to no longer use the term “Illegal Alien”. The resolution also called upon journalists and style guide editors to reconsider the term “illegal immigrant”. The resolution was made at the SPJ convention a few weeks ago. The National Association Of Hispanic Journalists is concerned with the pervasive use of inaccurate terms for the estimated 11 million undocumented people living in America. The resolution also brought out a key-point that only a court can judge whether someone has “committed an illegal act”.

In my opinion, it’s crucial that we as journalists watch what we say. We certainly don’t want to offend anyone, and generalizations often do just that. I applaud the SPJ’s decision. However, I wonder what term would be more appropriate.The AP-Style book favors the term ‘illegal immigrant”. What word could possibly substitute that? It will certainly be a hot topic in journalism for a while. I look forward to tracking it at the upcoming NABJ and Unity conventions.

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