The Conscious Language Newsletter: October 2023


From the World of Conscious Language

Note: The authors' viewpoints are not necessarily shared by Conscious Style Guide.


Word Choice Matters, Especially When Covering a War

“The war between Israel and Hamas is rooted in what may be the world’s most complex conflict. Describing it requires an equally complex set of decisions about the language to use. Journalists owe it to their audiences to keep reporting, assessing their language and adjusting as necessary.” Read >


How We Define and Use the Word Terrorism in the Israel-Hamas War Matters a Lot

“Those trying to explain the historical and political context surrounding Hamas’s actions can often be perceived as endorsing terrorism, even if they do not support the group. This creates an environment where it seems necessary to choose a side and hinders constructive discussions.” Read >


Making Monsters: How Media Encourage Hatred of Immigrants

“Media scare tactics are not without consequence. According to a 2021 study, the preponderance of negative immigration news has engendered outgroup hostility toward asylum seekers and ingroup favoritism toward the native-born.” Read >


How Conservatives Use “Verbal Jiu-Jitsu” to Turn Liberals’ Language Against Them

“The term [‘climate change’] itself is a right-wing position that people on the left just innocently adopted instead of saying, well, this is a climate disaster that’s approaching.”—George Lakoff, cognitive scientist. Read >


Can I Call You That? A Guide to Terminology When Referring to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

“Try to avoid just saying ‘Aboriginals’ or ‘an Aboriginal’. You should always follow with a noun, for example, ‘Aboriginal person’ and ‘Torres Strait Islander people’. Do not use the outdated term ‘Aboriginie’.” Read >


It’s Time to Retire the Term AAPI

“While the term [Asian American and Pacific Islander] can serve as a unifying label for the two groups, it also erases entire cultures that are barely recognized in the U.S. today.” Read >

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5 Tips to Help You Cover the College Mental Health Crisis

Tips from mental health experts to journalists covering college mental health, including “Make it clear to your audiences that the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t cause this crisis. Student mental health had been declining for years before the virus reached the U.S.” Read >


Why Puerto Rico Is Adding “USA” to Its Driver’s Licenses

“The cases that have gained national attention highlight yet another issue that may not be solved by adding ‘USA’ on identification, Professor Díaz said: Latinos of all kinds ‘are constantly treated as foreigners regardless of citizenship, whether you’re an eighth-generation Mexican American, or a recent immigrant from anywhere in Latin America, or a Puerto Rican who lives in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.’” Read >


“They Treat You Like an It”: People With Intellectual Disability on Seeing Medical Professionals

“The deficit-based language of genetics is peppered with words such as mutation, risk, impairment and abnormality. This can reinforce people’s lifelong experiences of bullying and stigma.” Read >


Removing Words With Gender Bias in Job Ads: More Diverse Applicants

“Male-gendered verbiage can signal to women that they don’t belong. That may dissuade some women from applying for jobs laden with words that trigger stereotypical masculine connotations.” Read >


Real Estate and Food Reporting Is a Missed Opportunity

“What if a chicken recipe explained why pasture-raised chicken was better for both the animal, the diner and the planet, and yet also acknowledged also that such meat might be too costly for the ordinary home cook? Or a glazed broccoli recipe that also laid out why broccoli is best if it’s farmed in a multi crop situation with minimal chemicals?” Read >


Pronouns Aren’t Just for LGBTQIA+ People—They’re for Everyone

“Using multiple pronouns removes the binary structure in my head that limits how I should navigate through the world.”—Alex Thomas-Smith, artist. Read >


Inclusive Language Around Socioeconomic Status and Age

Inclusive-language tips from the American Chemical Society, including “Avoid representing some types of employment as being inherently better than others, and avoid describing jobs or workers as ‘unskilled’ or ‘low skill.’” Read >


Words at Work: Should We Use CALD or CARM?

“When discussing race, we also use the terms ‘racialised’ (e.g., workers racialised as Black or as white), ‘racially privileged’ and ‘racially marginalised’ instead of ‘culturally diverse’ or ‘culturally and linguistically diverse’. These terms recognise that racism is rooted in a social process called racialisation.” Read >

CSG in the News

7 Tips for Incorporating DEI Into Your Marketing and PR Strategy

“Brands that want to be inclusive must first look inward—this means creating a diverse team that can understand different groups. This is, after all, how diverse ideas, innovative solutions, and multiple points of view emerge.” Read >

New and Notable on CSG

Media Resource Guide: Palestine/Israel

“Remember the broader context of Palestinian-Israeli relations and how they tie into the events you’re currently covering.” Visit Ethnicity, Race + Nationality >

From the Archives

When Bias-Free Language Excludes

“When the dominant narrative presents a partial view, we need biased language to promote visibility of the parts that have been pushed aside.” Read >

In Case You Missed It

In the September 2023 newsletter…

  • Antisemitism in Fantasy and Fairy Tales

  • Six Pregnancy Terms You Probably Won’t Hear Again, Including “High Risk” and “Failed”

  • Click Here: Twitter Alt Text Meme That Isn’t Funny for Blind People

Other Resources

Join Our Online Community: Are you on Facebook? Join the Conscious Language + Design Facebook Group to learn, share, and chat with others who are curious or serious about conscious language.

Find Editors of Color: The Editors of Color Database helps recruiters connect with editors, proofreaders, and sensitivity readers of color in the U.S. and Canada. You can submit job listings for distribution to our private network and explore the 100+ resources in Diverse Databases, which highlights underrepresented groups. Diversify your sources now!

Get More Tips on Instagram: Follow @ConsciousStyleGuide for examples of how context can support sensitive content, with a focus on children's books and teen lit.

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