NPR Creates New Guideline for Addressing Washington Football Team

Washington Redskins

Image: via Instagram.

The Washington Redskins have come under fire multiple times this year for team owner Dan Snyder’s refusal to change the team’s offensive name. While Snyder and diehard local football fans claim that they are honoring the Native American community by continuing to use the name, many people from across the country have criticized it for the inherent racism it embodies.

Today, National Public Radio (NPR) made the game changing announcement that it would be actively avoiding printing the team’s name in articles. Reportedly, on Friday, October 10, standards editor Mark Memmot issued a guidance to the newsroom referencing policy changes. This guidance reads, in part:

Our policy on potentially offensive language states that “as a responsible broadcaster, NPR has always set a high bar on use of language that may be offensive to our audience. Use of such language on the air [and online] has been strictly limited to situations where it is absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told.”

That guidance should be kept in mind. Here’s how:

As a network, we do not have much occasion to report on this club. When we do, we can usually refer to it simply as “Washington” or “the team” once we’ve established that we’re talking about the city’s NFL franchise. This line, for example, was on our air after the firing of Washington’s coach: “Last year the Redskins made the playoffs, this year they were only 3-13, Mike Shanahan was held to account.” We could have said: “Last year Washington made the playoffs, this year the team was only 3-13, Mike Shanahan was held to account.”

The fact that NPR is having conscious conversations about how to address a controversial topic like this is groundbreaking, and evocative of the progressive work that its journalists and editors are committed to doing.

What do you think of NPR’s decision to detach itself from the Washington Redskins team name?

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