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NABJ Style Guide E-F-G
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Ebonics: Slang or nonstandard form of the English language that is used by some in the black community. Avoid using the form in news copy. (See dialect.)

ethnicity, race: The mention of a persons race should not be used unless relevant. This also applies to references to ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. Derogatory terms or slurs aimed at members of a racial or ethnic group may not be used unless having a direct bearing on the news, and then only with the approval of the senior editor in charge. Avoid stereotypes. Race and ethnicity may be relevant in some stories, including the following:

  • Crime stories - A highly detailed description of a suspect sought by police can contain race. Be sure the description is properly attributed. Do not use descriptions that include only a few items or are vague, such as tall, dark clothes.
  • Biographical or announcement stories - Be careful about using race or ethnicity to describe a person as the first to accomplish a specific feat. Firsts are important, but race and ethnicity shouldn't be overemphasized. Reserve race or ethnicity for significant, groundbreaking or historic events such as winning a Nobel Prize, being named chief justice or becoming mayor. By overplaying race or ethnicity, ones achievement may seem dependent on that instead of ability.


    fag, faggot: Originally offensive word for homosexual male, although some gay men now are reclaiming it. The word still is offensive when used as an epithet. Avoid usage.

    firsts: Use first black or first African American regarding a persons or groups achievement only when relevant and proven. (See ethnicity, race.)

    forced busing: Avoid because of possible negative connotations. Busing is sufficient.

    Freaknic, Freaknik: Annual spring break gathering of thousands of black college students in Atlanta. Freaknic started in 1982 as a picnic planned by college students in Washington. The name combined the title of a popular 1980s song, The Freak by disco group Chic, and the word picnic. The names spelling changed from Freaknic to the preferred Freaknik, but the versions still are interchanged. In 1997, the city of Atlanta began calling the event Black College Spring Break. Today, other incarnations are held in Daytona, Fla.; Houston and Galveston, Texas, and Biloxi, Miss.

    411: Slang for information.


    ghetto, inner city: Terms used as synonyms for sections of cities inhabited by poor people or minorities. Avoid these descriptions because of their negative connotations. Often the name of the neighborhood is the best choice. Section, district or quarter may also be used. Urban is also acceptable.

    ghetto blaster, ghetto box: Do not use to describe a big portable radio. Boom box is acceptable.

    Gullah: Creole blend of Elizabethan English and African languages, born of necessity on Africa's slave coast and developed in slave communities of isolated plantations of the coastal South. Even after the Sea Islands were freed in1861, the Gullah speech flourished because of the islands separation from the mainland. Access to the islands was by water until the 1950s. (See Sea Islands.)

    Great Migration, The: Mass movement by Southern blacks relocating to the North and West in early 20th century. Although slavery had been illegal for three decades by the 1890s, Southern blacks generally felt a new de facto form of slavery. Lynchings, Jim Crow laws and economic hardship made them feel as if little had improved since emancipation. From the 1890s to 1970s, a great migration of Southern blacks moved to the Promised Land of the North in search of better jobs and greater racial tolerance. (See Jim Crow.)

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