How Journalists Use Hate for ProfitBy Charles Garcia in the Huffington Post
Posted: 07/09/2012 6:14 am
"Since 2004, AP directs the media to use "illegal immigrant" as the most "accurate and neutral" term."
In 2010, University of South Carolina journalism professor Sei-hill Kim and Auburn University professor John Carvalho researched newspaper articles and television transcripts between 1997 and 2006 and found the terms illegal alien, illegal immigrant, or just plain illegals are everywhere on television, in newspapers, and on talk radio. They also discovered journalists attracted the largest audiences with crime stories, so linking immigrants to a crime drama was preferred because it increased ratings and profits.
This sleazy practice was confirmed by Fox News host Geraldo Rivera who recently urged his colleagues to drop these biased and racial epithets, charging that media companies "are making a killing demonizing undocumented immigrants" because few issues work so well for ratings in cable news and talk radio.
In the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the landmark Arizona immigration case on June 25th Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and three other justices made clear that foreign nationals residing unlawfully in the U.S. are not -- and never have been -- criminals. They are subject to deportation, through a civil procedure where judges have wide discretion to allow them to remain here. The Court also ruled that it was not a crime to seek or engage in unauthorized employment. Groundbreaking also was what the Court omitted: the biased and racially charged words "illegal immigrants" and "illegal aliens," except when quoting other sources.
The reason journalists get away with dehumanizing Latinos with coded hate language for profit lies in large part on the Associated Press Stylebook which is the media industry bible for the appropriate use of language. Since 2004, AP directs the media to use "illegal immigrant" as the most "accurate and neutral" term.
Suggesting that "illegal immigrant" is accurate and neutral is like Chief Justice William Rehnquist defending his use of the term "wetbacks" for Mexican children. He once argued with a shocked Justice Thurgood Marshall that this racial slur still carried "currency in his part of the country." Rehnquist practiced law in Phoenix for sixteen years.
Not surprisingly the 19-member board of directors of the Associated Press doesn't have a single Latino on its board. If it did, I'm sure management would be chastised for the use of "illegal immigrant" which is not only inaccurate and biased but highly offensive.