Diversity Style Guide provides guidance to news organizations in midst of change

Thursday, July 9, 2020
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As news organizations grapple with long-term implications of the national reckoning on racial injustice, editors around the country are rethinking their style on terms related to race. Should they capitalize Black, Indigenous and White when they refer to racial identities? Should they abandon euphemistic terms like "urban music"?

As they consider these decisions, many are turning to The Diversity Style Guide, a resource that helps journalists and other media writers write with accuracy and authority about a diverse society.

Journalism Department Chair Rachele Kanigel created the online resource in 2016, bringing together style advice from more than 20 different style guides on terms related to race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, mental health, disability, generations, drugs and alcohol, and religion. Last year, she published a companion book of the same name that digs more deeply into issues, including the lack of diversity in U.S. newsrooms and how journalists cover thorny issues like immigration and suicide.

Kanigel said traffic to the website has exploded over the past month as news organizations have looked introspectively and considered what role they play in the advancement of white supremacy and oppression. Many news organizations are rethinking their style on terms related to race (particularly whether Black should be capitalized) and have sought advice from the guide.

Last month, The Columbia Journalism Review mentioned the style guide in a piece on why it capitalizes Black when referring to race. The Harvard Political Review listed the guide as a resource to improve racial literacy in its recent Statement of Solidarity.

Two media organizations, The Objective, which aims to confront inequities in media coverage, and the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the Washington, D.C.-based press club, each recently interviewed Kanigel this month about The Diversity Style Guide. Click the links above to read the coverage.