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The Global Press Style Guide

The Global Press Style Guide is a living document that establishes rules for referring to the people and places around the world where Global Press Journal reporters work. Each entry is crafted to promote dignity and precision in international journalism.

aboriginal/indigenous

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use precise terms and descriptions to refer to languages, cultures and other characteristics specific to people who claim their ancestry in a specific place dates back to time immemorial. Only use the words aboriginal or indigenous when a more precise term cannot be verified.

Rationale:

Use of precise terms promotes reader clarity and affords sources opportunities to describe themselves in distinct ways.

abortion

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the terms pro-life or pro-choice in any instance to define abortion-related movements, policies or perspectives. Do not use anti-abortion as a synonym for pro-life, and do not use abortion-rights as a synonym for pro-choice. Instead, use precise language to describe a person’s position on this complex issue, with an emphasis on dignity, and use words that do not convey judgment or political affiliation. Add the source’s personal context where appropriate, and always include the cultural and legal context of the location.

Rationale:

In relation to abortion, the terms pro-life and pro-choice are constructs that are not applied globally. Both terms have broader political implications related to capital punishment and euthanasia, and may not accurately capture an individual’s position on abortion alone.

Example:

While running for Parliament in Uganda, Judith Mongo was outspoken in her belief that women should have access to abortion, which is illegal in the country.

accent marks

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Always use accent marks to accurately spell names of people and places, using any necessary or preferred characters that websites can reproduce.

Rationale:

An accent mark is a part of a complete, correctly spelled name.

African

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use continental references as adjectives to generally describe people, practice, language or culture, including art. Be precise and use specific descriptions. Similar considerations should be made for generalizations linked to other continents.

Rationale:

Continental references are never appropriate, except when referring to the continent. This rule is emphasized for Africa, because the word African is commonly used to stereotype a form of art, religion or anything else that in reality is rooted in a single place or culture on the African continent.

Example:

The gallery is devoted both to the presentation of contemporary art and to the preservation of Zimbabwe’s visual heritage. It’s also home to a collection of paintings, masks, images and sculptures, both ancient and modern, from across the continent. Read this full story from Zimbabwe here.

al-Shabaab

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use al-Shabaab to refer to the armed group founded in Somalia.

Rationale:

This spelling more accurately transliterates the Arabic letters and their pronunciation than the often-used al-Shabab.

albinism

This is a deviation from AP Style.

ancestry

Rule:

Only use to refer to the physical bloodline or lineage of a person or group. It is an acceptable alternative to “ethnicity,” which this style guide bans, and more precise than the general term “indigenous.”

Rationale:

When relevant, references to a person’s ancestry are more precise than other commonly used words, such as ethnicity or culture.

Example:

The ancestry of Zimbabwe’s Shona people is rooted in eastern Zimbabwe and areas that now form that country’s neighbors. The Shona speak a language of the same name. Read this full story from Zimbabwe in Global Press Journal here.

Animism

Rule:

Do not use Animism as a catchall word to describe paganism or other religions or spiritual frameworks that exist outside of major world religions. Do not equate Animism to paganism, Voodoo or other belief systems. Animism should be capitalized, because it is a specific religious system.

Rationale:

Animism is a set of beliefs that attribute spirituality or a soul to plants, animals, geographic features and other nonhuman objects or entities.

anonymous sources

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Global Press Journal reporters pursue information on the record in every case. When on-the-record interviews and information are not possible, Global Press Journal grants anonymity to sources when naming them would likely result in danger, retribution or undue stigma. Reasons for granting anonymity are made clear to the reader. There are some exceptions for public figures, particularly politicians, who are not likely to be granted anonymity on statements or issues directly related to their public position.

Rationale:

Global Press Journal grants anonymity to sources who have demonstrated that conditions apply to warrant anonymity. Consult local laws for rules regarding anonymity.

Arab

Rule:

Do not use Arab as a general reference when a more specific descriptor can be used.

Rationale:

Using Arab alone, when a more specific word can be used, can force readers to make assumptions based on stereotypes.

armed groups

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use rebel, guerilla, militant or terror group to describe organizations that use weapons to defend their expressed interests. Instead, use the term armed group, or use the specific name of the group with a description of the mandate of the group, so that readers understand the context in which the group has chosen to take up arms. When referring to a single person, use the word member, and define their relationship to the group.

Rationale:

Describing armed groups as rebel, guerilla, militant and terrorist groups carries bias and may be inaccurate.

asylum seeker/asylee

Rule:

The term asylum seeker refers to someone who has formally applied for asylum in a foreign country. The term asylee refers to someone who has received admittance into a foreign country. While asylum is generally granted on the basis of persecution or danger that a person faces in her or his home nation, there are no globally applied definitions. Both terms should be used in accordance with local laws in countries relevant to a story’s news value.

Note that these terms are not interchangeable with refugee or related words. Add context, including sociopolitical realities in a source’s home country and in the country where that source seeks asylum.

Rationale:

Terms related to asylum are often misapplied. Precise, context-rich references are required for reader clarity.

attribution

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use “says” in present tense for human sources. Use “according to” for documents or inanimate bodies.

Rationale:

Using words other than says can imply bias and may inaccurately describe the source’s intentions.

baby

belief systems

Rule:

Do not conflate religions and belief systems. Treat all believers with dignity. Use precise language to describe belief systems. Do not reject the validity of a belief system based on your own or your readers’ lack of familiarity with it.

Rationale:

A belief system is a general term referring to a set of principles or practices. A religion is a specific set of beliefs that are practiced in a formalized way. Preferential language is often used to refer to believers of mainstream religions. It is not the journalist’s job to verify that a belief system is true. Note, however, that does not preclude a journalist from investigating the practices of a religion.

black

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not conflate race with skin color. Only refer to a source’s skin color when central to the story’s news value. Always include local context.

Rationale:

It is not accurate to conflate race with skin color. Source dignity is prioritized when skin color is referred to only when pertinent to a story’s news value.

Example:

Today, the group of people collectively known as “war veterans,” including those represented by the Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans’ Association, is a powerful political faction that also carries out many of the land seizures in order to install black Zimbabweans, including some war veterans, as owners of farms once owned by white Zimbabweans. Read this full story from Zimbabwe in Global Press Journal here.

captions

Rule:

In captions, only include dates when a specific date is relevant to the understanding of the caption and image. Do not include dates when the action of the image is not time-sensitive or the meaning of the story isn’t likely to change with time.

Rationale:

If the date is not relevant to the story or the image, including it in the caption can disrupt reader clarity.

Ceylonese

This is no longer a deviation from AP Style. AP recently removed its entry for Ceylon.

Rule:

Do not use the term Ceylon to refer to the country of Sri Lanka, and do not use the term Ceylonese to describe the people of Sri Lanka. References to Ceylon Tea should only be used to describe the Ceylon tea brand.

Rationale:

This is a colonial term that does not acknowledge that the country gained independence in 1948.

chairman/chairwoman/chairperson

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

In cases of gendered, official titles such as chairman, use the formal title even when the gender noted in it does not appear to match the gender of the person holding it.

Rationale:

It’s not appropriate for a news agency to change a person’s official title.

civil war/conflict

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use the term civil war to describe extensive, prolonged conflict between government and nongovernment groups. Use the term skirmish to describe an episodic attack between government and nongovernment groups.

Use the term conflict to describe fighting between armed groups. A conflict may be part of a civil war but isn’t necessarily so.

In cases where a civil war is commonly referred to by a specific name, either locally or globally, use that name in the story as a proper noun. Identify the country, parties involved and the years when the war occurred.

Rationale:

Precise references to conflicts and civil wars ensure reader clarity.

Example:

The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999, when anti-government fighting broke out in the north. This was following the First Liberian Civil War, which lasted from 1989 to 1996.

The conflict behind the recent displacement is less driven by anti-Zapatista ideology than by a desire to reclaim the land that each side believes belongs to it, she says, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that some of the aggressors were previously engaged in government-supported efforts to root out the Zapatistas. Read our story here.

climate change

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the terms climate change and global warming as synonyms. Do not use phrases such as climate change denier, doubter or skeptic to refer to sources who do not believe that climate change is happening, although those phrases are acceptable in quotes when directly relevant. Describe a person’s opinion on the issue in context and with specificity.

Rationale:

The term climate change encompasses a wide range of environmental phenomena, including instances of extreme weather, changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and changes in sea level. Global warming refers to a worldwide rise in temperatures. Labels such as climate change denier and others indicate bias on the part of the news agency.

Congo (Republic of Congo), Democratic Republic of Congo

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use DRC as the abbreviation for Democratic Republic of Congo on second reference; the dateline counts as the first reference. For stories published in English, do not use “the DRC,” except in quotes. For stories published in French, use “la RDC” because of the grammar requirements of the language. When referring to the Republic of Congo, a different country, use the country’s full name on second reference.

Rationale:

Using DRC on second reference is precise and prioritizes reader clarity.

contested land areas

Rule:

Do not refer to contested land areas in a way that demonstrates a preference for one side, even if widely used maps, such as Google maps, do not indicate disputed borders. Always add context to inform the reader that an area is contested, when that contestation is relevant to the story’s news value.

Rationale:

Many maps are not updated to reflect local disputes and conditions. Common narratives regarding contested areas often don’t fully recognize local realities.

corn, maize

Rule:

Use interchangeably, based on the regional preference of residents of the location in the dateline.

Rationale:

The staple crop is referred to differently in different regions.

coup

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this word to describe actions by the military, political leadership or other actors, national or foreign, to replace a government’s leadership, whether carried out by force, nonviolently or by legal actions.

Rationale:

Timely use of this word ensures reader clarity, by providing accurate and foundational news coverage of politically complex scenarios.

Example:

With a record voter turnout of more than 70 percent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ZANU-PF leader who became the head of state in November, after he led a coup against longtime President Robert Mugabe, defeated Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old head of the main opposition party, MDC Alliance.

cultural genocide

Rule:

Cultural genocide describes a scenario in which a specific culture is systematically targeted for destruction by denying the people who practice that culture access to it AND when that destruction is in progress.

Cultural genocide should not be used as a synonym for a disenfranchised culture. It may be part of a physical genocide, but it is not always so. Cultural genocide should not be used to refer to a naturally fading or dying culture.

As with the word genocide, the phrase “cultural genocide” should be used carefully and with significant forethought and verification. Local people who represent various perspectives should express agreement on the details of the actions occurring on the ground, even if the people don’t expressly agree that those actions constitute cultural genocide.

Rationale:

Direct, precise language is required when describing instances of a forcible loss of culture.

NEWSROOM LEADERSHIP SIGN-OFF REQUIRED.

Within Global Press Journal, use of this phrase must be reviewed by the GPJ Style Committee and relevant legal team before publication, to ensure that its use is justified.

As with the word genocide, it is Global Press Journal’s policy to use the phrase cultural genocide when the editorial team is satisfied that the defining conditions are verifiably met. This policy is independent of the word choice used by governments, international agencies or bodies and other news organizations.

culture

Rule:

Use the word culture when referring to customary beliefs, but be as precise as possible when only a single facet of a culture, such as religion, is relevant. Do not use culture to refer to countries, races or other large groups of people who have similarities but may not share a specific cultural element.

Rationale:

Culture refers to the customary beliefs and practices of a specific group of people. Culture includes but is not limited to religion, nonreligious traditions or a language shared by that group.

currency

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Always use local currency to value goods and services referred to in a story. Follow each reference to local currency with the U.S.-dollar equivalent in parentheses, using “$” and not the word “dollar,” rounding up or down where necessary for clarity. If a country also uses the U.S. dollar as a primary currency, add context to explain.

Do not capitalize the name of the currency (e.g., rupees). Always spell out, lowercase. Specify the name of the currency on first reference (Nepalese rupees), dropping the country name on subsequent references (rupees). If dealing with two currencies with the same name in a story (Indian rupees and Nepalese rupees), use full names throughout the story.

Currency exchange rates should be determined using a consistent source and updated within 24 hours of publication.

Rationale:

Stories should be written from the perspective of the location noted in the dateline, not the location of the intended reader.

dateline

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use all capital letters and an em dash to introduce a story, based on the place where the reporter gathered the primary information for a story. Even if most of the reporting for a story was gathered elsewhere, such as in a capital where officials or experts are easily accessible, the dateline should indicate the location of primary news value.

All datelines must include a country name, for reader clarity. When reporting from a contested area, use the most accurate descriptor, to ensure that readers understand whether people in that area are governed by a sovereign entity.

Rationale:

Readers have a right to transparent information about the location where reporting was conducted.

dates

Rule:

Use the Gregorian calendar as a default for dates. When a precise date can only be expressed by use of a non-Gregorian calendar, use that reference and provide a conversion.

Rationale:

The Gregorian calendar is widely used, but when specificity is required, a non-Gregorian calendar can be more precise.

death/suicide

Rule:

Always describe the verified method or cause of a person’s death, with the intention of emphasizing both the person’s dignity and the full truth of each scenario. If it is not possible to verify the method of death, use the general “died” with a note that informs readers that it was not possible to determine a more specific cause of death.

Rationale:

Using general language to describe death is inaccurate and can deprive a source of dignity, when more specificity is key to a story’s news value.

Developing World/emerging economy/Global South

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use Global South to describe low- or middle-income countries. The term is geographically imprecise and is generally used as a sanitized synonym for poverty.

Do not use the terms Developing World or Developing Nations as a catchall for low- or middle-income countries. Instead, refer to the GDP of the country, in context with others, to precisely identify the economic status of a country, when relevant to the news value of the story.

Do not use emerging economy or emerging market to describe a country’s economic status. The terms are imprecise and do not have a widely accepted definition.

Instead, describe the country’s market characteristics, including liquidity and debt, when relevant to the news value of the story.

Rationale:

Using generalized terms to imply poverty across large land areas and countries that have little else in common reflects bias and defines complex communities by foreign standards of wealth.

Example:

Nepal, a landlocked country wedged between India to its south and China to its north, has a gross domestic product of just $21.1 billion, making it a bit player in the global economy, compared to its powerhouse neighbors.

disabilities

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Describe all references to people with disabilities in a way that prioritizes precision and the source’s personal dignity. A person’s disability should not be referred to in the story unless it has specific relevance to the story’s news value.

Do not use imprecise terms, including disabled person or the disabled. Do not use the phrases “differently abled,” and “handi-capable,” because they are imprecise. Do not refer to people who do not have disabilities as normal or able-bodied.

Do not describe a source as the subject of a disease or disorder, but rather as a person with a disease or disorder. Do not use the words “deformed,” “deformity,” “birth defect,” “abnormality” and related words, except when describing a specific physical detail or a clinical scenario that is relevant to the story’s news value.

In countries where medical experts are scarce, people with cognitive or intellectual disabilities are often assumed to suffer from a mental illness or disorder. A person with a cognitive disability might also suffer from a mental illness and vice versa, but they are not necessarily linked. In some locations, a physical or cognitive disability might be assumed by local people to be connected to religion or the spiritual realm. Do not repeat unproven beliefs in a way that misleads readers.

Rationale:

Precise medical diagnoses and descriptions are always required to ensure dignity and accuracy.

Dominican Republic

Rule:

For stories published in English, use “Dominican Republic,” or “DR” on second reference. Do not use “the” to precede the name of the country except in quotes. For stories published in Spanish, use “la RD” because of the grammar requirements of the language.

Rationale:

Precise references serve reader clarity.

DRC

This is a deviation from AP Style.

education systems

Rule:

Do not assume that all countries use the same systems of education. Primary, secondary, tertiary, high school and college may have different age or grade levels associated with them in different countries. Describe school-aged sources with age and contextual equivalents.

Rationale:

It is inaccurate to define all education systems using standards from a single region or country.

embryo

emerging economy/market

ethnic/ethnicity

Rule:

Do not use the word ethnic to categorize people.

Instead, choose a context-rich description that clearly and accurately defines the shared characteristic relevant to the story, whether religion, cultural practice, language, race or other trait.

Rationale:

The words ethnic and ethnicity, and phrases related to them, are often misused. Related phrases, such as ethnic tensions, are often used to generalize complex circumstances including conflict, genocide and racial issues. Readers are not served when a story fails to precisely illuminate those complexities.

Example:

The national government doesn’t ensure that the teachers sent to Matabeleland speak Ndebele, a primary language in the province and one that shares a name with the Ndebele people, a minority group in Zimbabwe. Read this full story from Zimbabwe on Global Press Journal here.

European Union/E.U.

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this abbreviation for European Union, with periods, in headlines and on second reference.

Rationale:

Consistent references to global entities ensure reader clarity.

fair trade

Rule:

Verification is required before use of the phrase fair trade, as defined by a certifying authority, except when used in a proper noun. Do not repeat a company’s claim that its product is fair trade without verifying that claim with sources at various stages of production, including the product’s community of origin.

Rationale:

The phrase carries a general assumption of equity along a product chain that is not necessarily fair or accurate.

femicide

Rule:

Use this term only when referring to a specific legal criminal code or formal criminal charge.

Do not use as a general term for violence against women that results in death. Instead, precisely describe the verified circumstances that led to death.

The term is acceptable to use when in a quote or as part of a formal name.

Rationale:

Inaccurate use of this term forces readers to make assumptions.

fetus/baby/embryo

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use the words embryo, fetus and baby according to their scientific definitions, including the scientific definition in the story when applicable. An embryo is aged from two weeks to eight weeks; A fetus is aged from nine weeks to birth; A baby is a born infant.

Do not assume that political affiliations related to abortion are shared globally when using the word fetus or when quoting sources in global communities.

In global communities, people often use the word baby without political intent to describe their unborn offspring.

Any phrase or word is acceptable in a quote.

Rationale:

The words fetus, embryo and baby have distinct scientific definitions and should not be used interchangeably. The words are controversial and inflammatory when applied to political arguments or human rights debates and therefore require the journalist to use the scientific term to ensure clarity.

football/soccer

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use football to refer to the sport played at the FIFA World Cup. Do not use soccer. Use American football to refer to the game Americans play in the Super Bowl. Use context to note the distinction.

Rationale:

Both sports use the same name, so a distinction is necessary when writing for a global audience.

foreign

Rule:

Only use the word foreign in reference to specific people, places and things that do not originate in the country of a story’s dateline.

Rationale:

The word foreign is relative to the writer, not to the reader.

gay, lesbian, homosexual, transgender, transsexual, queer

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

All references to a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity must be specifically relevant to the story’s news angle. Seek explicit permission from sources before publishing details about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, if publication of those details could result in social or legal persecution. Anonymity is acceptable for sources who fear persecution.

Ensure that all relevant terms, including those related to medical procedures, are used accurately according to local definitions, with descriptive context added for global readers.

Do not use phrases that refer to a gay or alternative “lifestyle.”

Use “transgender” rather than “transgendered” or “a transgender” when referring to sources.

Only use the word transsexual if a source identifies this way.

Rationale:

Terms related to gender identity and sexual orientation vary by location. Sources must be afforded dignity, regardless of the legal and social realities of their home locations, and must have a reasonable expectation that their personal security will be respected.

generational descriptors

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use words and phrases such as millennial, baby boomer or Generation X to describe people born in certain years.

Rationale:

These words and phrases are not globally understood or equally applied, and they force readers to make assumptions about the people so described.

genocide

Rule:

Only use the word genocide to describe a scenario in which a specific group of people are systematically targeted for death based on a characteristic the people in that group share. The definition of genocide is not linked to the number of people at risk, regardless of how small the group.

Mere intent to destroy a group is not a sufficient condition for use of the word genocide. Rather, the word genocide can be accurately used when physical destruction is happening and when there is intent to continue. This scenario might include widespread killings of members of that specific group with impunity, or the forcible prevention of pregnancy and/or childbirth among members of that group.

When entities in that area or scenario agree on the fact that a certain group of people are targeted for physical death, use the word genocide as a descriptor, with an emphasis on precision and accuracy.

Use the word genocide with great care and forethought, ensuring that local people in the area or scenario to which the word is applied have been thoroughly consulted.

Within Global Press Journal, use of this phrase must be reviewed by the GPJ Style Committee before publication, to ensure that its use is justified.

As with the phrase cultural genocide, it is Global Press Journal’s policy to use the word genocide when the editorial team is satisfied that the defining conditions are verifiably met. This policy is independent of the word choice used by governments, international agencies or bodies and other news organizations.

Rationale:

Local reporters are uniquely positioned to identify, define and report on instances of genocide in a timely manner.

geographic references

Rule:

Use precise place names, even when a location is not widely known. Add contextual geographic details when necessary for reader clarity. Place names should be verified with local people. For place names that only exist in non-Roman languages, confirm an acceptable transliteration with the local reporter.

Do not use continental or otherwise broad geographic references for people, politics, economies or culture. More precise terms are available in every instance.

Broad geographic references, such as sub-Saharan Africa, should be used judiciously when there are consistent units for comparison, such as economic or political commonalities.

For places where location names and boundaries are disputed, that dispute should be noted in the story.

Rationale:

Generalizations or poor transliteration in geographic references can lead to imprecise, misleading or inaccurate coverage.

Example:

Cellphone ownership has eclipsed landline phone ownership across sub-Saharan Africa.

ghetto

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use ghetto as an alternative to slum. Use context and precise descriptions to describe the location.

Rationale:

The word ghetto forces readers to make assumptions.

Global Press

Rule:

Use Global Press to refer to the nonprofit organization as a whole. Use Global Press Institute to refer to the organization’s training program. Use Global Press Journal to refer to the organization’s publication. Only refer to a news product as that of Global Press Journal, not of Global Press.

Rationale:

Entities that carry multiple brands should be referred to with precision.

global warming

government bodies/institutional names

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

For bodies and names presented in English, either American, British or a combination, the style is to include that name exactly as the organization refers to itself. For names not in English but in languages that use the Roman alphabet, do not translate the name, but follow the name with a brief description of that body’s function. If the body has its own English name in addition to a local language name, use the English to ensure reader clarity and use the local language name in the story version in that language. Translate names that only appear in a non-Roman alphabet, indicating that the name was translated by the publication.

Rationale:

Referring to bodies and institutions precisely and accurately fosters reader clarity.

Example:

Eddy Labossiere, an economics professor and president of l’Association Haïtienne des Economistes, an association of Haitian economists, says guildives are a unique element of the Haitian economy. Read this full story from Haiti here.

hate crime

Rule:

Use the term hate crime to describe a crime committed against a person or group, when that crime is verifiably based on hatred of that person or group’s inherent characteristics. When a country’s legal code includes a specific definition for the term hate crime, include details of that definition.

Rationale:

Precise usage of the phrase hate crime is important for accuracy. Misuse of this term can inflame tensions and create violent situations.

Example:

Months after about 300 Rohingya refugees arrived in Jammu, a city in northern India, a group of local people burned their homes. This hate crime drove the Rohingya to another neighborhood.

The mayor was formally charged with murder, which prosecutors say was a hate crime – an aggravation that carries the potential of more time added to a prison sentence.

headline

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Always capitalize the first word in a headline. Always capitalize nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Do not capitalize the indefinite or definite article, unless they are the first word in a headline. Always capitalize words consisting of four or more letters. Do not capitalize words consisting of three letters or fewer if the words are conjunctions (and, but, so, etc.) or prepositions (for, on, in, etc.).

Rationale:

Capitalization of key words in a headline enhances reader clarity.

Hispanic

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use Hispanic interchangeably with Latina, Latino, Latinx or Latin American or to infer nationality or race.

Rationale:

These words are not synonyms. Precise descriptions of sources, places or concepts promotes accuracy and reader clarity.

historical references

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Capitalize historical references to definitively singular events that are commonly referred to as proper nouns, such as World War II. Do not capitalize references to civil wars, revolutions and other events that are not singular, regardless of location. Treat references to specific countries and locations as adjectives, such as the American revolution.

Rationale:

Consistency in referring to historical events ensures equitable news coverage.

homicide/murder/manslaughter

Rule:

Examine specific legal contexts to ensure that these terms and other related words and phrases are used accurately, based on the story’s dateline. Add contextual information for reader clarity.

Rationale:

International legal contexts and definitions differ.

Indian-administered Kashmir

Rule:

Use this name, in datelines and every other case, to refer to the contested portion of the Jammu and Kashmir state, which is administered by India. Do not use Kashmir on its own, as it refers to a land area that extends from within Pakistan to the east through India and into China. Always add context regarding the ongoing conflict here, noting where relevant that the contested land area is contested by Pakistan and by Kashmiris.

Rationale:

Jammu and Kashmir is the full, formal name of this state in India, but its semi-autonomous status is consistently disputed by both the Indian government and people in parts of this state. References to this state that do not note India’s administration are misleading, reveal bias, inflame tensions and deprive readers of clarity and local sources of dignified news coverage.

Indus Waters Treaty of 1960

Rule:

This treaty, mediated by the World Bank and signed by the governments of India and Pakistan, allotted the waters of six regional rivers to either India or Pakistan. The treaty’s intent was to ensure that Pakistan continued to receive the same amount of water from key rivers that it received prior to the treaty. Add context for reader clarity.

Rationale:

The treaty is a completed document, but both countries repeatedly dispute the other’s rights to the water. These disputes create confusion about the treaty’s intent and conclusions, leading to inaccurate or misleading news reports in which the treaty is relevant.

inmate

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the word inmate when referring to a specific person in prison. Only use inmates as a general term to refer to a population of people who reside in a correctional facility.

Rationale:

People should be referred to as people as often as possible to prevent bias.

Example:

Zambia’s correctional facilities are meant to accommodate 8,000 inmates, but currently house more than 21,000. Read our story here.

internally displaced person

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this term to refer to people who are displaced within the borders of their own country by conflict. Do not conflate refugee and internally displaced person. IDP or IDPs are acceptable on second reference.

Rationale:

Internally displaced person has a specific definition that is not jargon. Accurate descriptions are key for source dignity and reader clarity.

International Labour Organization

This is a deviation from AP Style.

intersex

Rule:

Do not assume that people with biological variations related to anatomy should be grouped by default with people for whom gender is a question of identity. Use intersex only as a clinical reference and only when relevant to a story’s news value.

Rationale:

A journalist should not assume that a source seeks affiliation with a larger group. A person’s inherent identity should not be reduced to a biological variation.

Jammu and Kashmir

Rule:

Use the name Jammu and Kashmir to refer to this state in India only when information pertains to the whole state. Recognize that there are significant differences between the people and the political will in different parts of the state. When referring to the Kashmir side of the state, use Indian-administered Kashmir.

Rationale:

This state is administered by India. Failure to refer to India’s administration of the states misleads readers about local political realities.

juvenile

Rule:

Do not use the word juvenile or the phrase juvenile delinquent to refer to a person, except in specific legal contexts. Note that the age of consent varies by country. Include context noting local legal definitions when relevant.

Rationale:

Sources of every age must be referred to with dignity. Precise terms are necessary for reader clarity.

Kashmir

Rule:

Use this name only when specifically referring to the entire region of Kashmir that extends from within Pakistan to the east through India and into China. This name should not be used on its own to describe areas within Kashmir that can be described with more precise terms.

The areas of Kashmir include:

Kashmir, the region: This region was long known simply as Kashmir and ruled as a princely state. It was divided in 1947, and portions of it are now administered or controlled by India, Pakistan and China.

Azad Kashmir & Gilgit-Baltistan: These two territories are located between Pakistan and the line of demarcation known as the Line of Control. Both Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan are controlled by Pakistan but are not considered Pakistani territories.

Aksai Chin: This territory in Kashmir’s northeastern region was ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963. China now formally administers the area, which is also claimed by India.

Jammu and Kashmir: This is the formal name of the state in the country of India, which includes the Kashmir Valley and other areas under Indian administration. Article 370 of India’s Constitution grants semi-autonomous status to the state. Therefore, the state should always be called Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Kashmir Valley: This area is often the center of violent anti-Indian protests. Many Kashmiris in this region seek independence or to join Pakistan. Do not conflate the geography of the valley with the political reality of the state. This area is part of the section of the region called Indian-administered Kashmir.

Rationale:

Each portion of Kashmir has its own geopolitical scenarios, priorities and challenges. Precise language is required to ensure accuracy and reader clarity. Imprecise or inaccurate geographic references reveal bias, inflame tensions, deprive readers of clarity and deprive local sources of dignified news coverage.

The AP guideline, which states that India and Pakistan both “grabbed” control of part of Kashmir, is inaccurate.

Latina/Latino/Latinx

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use Latina or Latino when a source self-identifies as such. Specify a person’s nationality when possible.

Do not use Latina or Latino interchangeably with Hispanic. Do not use Latinx unless a source self-identifies as such. In general, use Latin American as a gender-neutral option.

None of these terms should be used interchangeably with nationalities, regions or cultures.

Rationale:

Accurate use of each phrase or word is necessary for reader clarity.

LGBT/Q/I/A

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use LGBT or another similar acronym as a default reference for a community, because such acronyms are not identically defined around the world.

Instead, describe sources in precise terms, based on each source’s self-identification. That self-identification might include an acronym such as LGBT or another similar acronym.

Do not assume that a source seeks affiliation with a larger group.

Rationale:

Terms related to gender identity and sexual orientation vary by location. Sources must be afforded dignity, regardless of the legal and social realities of their home locations, and must have a reasonable expectation that their personal security will be respected.

Do not use this acronym as default style to describe groups, people or concepts related to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues. Instead, describe the specific group in precise terms.

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Rule:

Use the full, formal name of this organization, when referring to Sri Lanka’s civil war. LTTE is acceptable on second reference. Do not use the name Tamil Tigers.

Rationale:

Precise references to organizations involved in controversial events are key to accuracy. Some shortened versions or nicknames of such organizations can reveal bias.

Line of Control

Rule:

Use the term Line of Control to refer to the line, guarded by military forces, that separates the sections of the Kashmir region claimed by Pakistan and India. This line is not an extension of the international boundary between the two countries in other areas. Do not refer to this line as an international border.

Rationale:

The legal framework regarding this line is frequently misunderstood. The Line of Control continues to be a source of disputes between Pakistan and India. A lack of precision can result in serious violence in this region.

mafia

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Only use this word to describe an organized crime syndicate that self-identifies as such.

Rationale:

Globally, there are multiple groups that identify as mafia, but not all organized crime groups do so.

Mai Mai

Rule:

Use this general term, capitalized and not hyphenated, to refer to nongovernmental, armed groups operating in Democratic Republic of Congo. When referring to a specific Mai Mai group, use that group’s individual name, which generally indicates its leader. Add context for reader clarity. Do not use the word rebel to describe these groups.

Rationale:

This umbrella term is a general reference to armed groups, but each group has its own identity and should be specified. These groups operate in a complex geopolitical environment. Using general language when referring to Mai Mai groups is imprecise and can create chaos and confusion.

medical conditions

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use a person’s medical condition or biological variation as a primary descriptor. Use phrases such as “people with albinism” or “person living with AIDS.” Use simple verbs such as “is” or “has” to indicate that a person “is diabetic” or “has cancer.”

Rationale:

Using a source’s medical condition or biological variation as a label violates the dignity of that source.

Example:

Steven Nyamapfeka’s four youngest children are living with albinism.

metric conversions

Rule:

When using units of measurement, include both the metric and U.S. customary equivalents. Measurement standards in the story’s dateline determine which unit is followed by its equivalent in parentheses.

Rationale:

Include conversions to ensure clarity for all global readers.

militant group

modern

Rule:

Do not use the word modern to describe a person, place or entity that is presumed to be sophisticated or technologically advanced. The word modern refers to time, not innovation.

Do not use as a general reference to the present day or recent past. Instead, use specific time references.

Rationale:

Precise descriptions of people, places, entities and time serve reader clarity and prevent bias.

modern slavery

Rule:

Do not use the term modern slavery to refer to methods of institutional slavery occurring in the present day. Instead, precisely describe the method of slavery, noting that indentured servitude, bonded labor and forced sex work all have unique definitions and consequences. Do not refer to people working in a form of slavery as victims or survivors. Precisely describe the local legal context in which the situation is occurring.

Rationale:

Precise, context-rich references are required for source dignity and reader clarity.

movie ratings

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use the local rating system in the country specified in the dateline. Do not default to ratings of the Motion Picture Association of America.

Rationale:

Movie rating systems are not universally accepted or applied.

names

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not translate names and other proper nouns that use the Roman alphabet. Follow the name with an appositive to describe the proper noun, if necessary.

Names written or presented in non-Roman alphabets must be translated for reader clarity. Use a common English version of the name, if one exists. In all other cases, work with a translator to ensure an acceptable transliteration, alerting readers that a transliteration has been used.

Allow local sources to state what constitutes a surname on second reference.

Rationale:

Presenting names in original languages ensures accuracy. Translating names to and from non-Roman alphabets ensures reader clarity.

native

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use native as a noun to describe a person, group or plant. Allow sources to self-identify as native.

Rationale:

The word native is a general term that lacks precision. It is also considered pejorative in many contexts.

Native American tribes/tribal nations/First Nations

Rule:

Use precise names when referring to sovereign or formally constituted nations. These terms are not necessarily interchangeable.

Rationale:

Precision is required when referring to tribal nations, because of the wide variety of cultures and languages practiced by those groups. As sovereign or formally constituted nations, each group or tribe is most accurately referred to by its specific name.

Native American/American Indian Reservation

Rule:

Use the word reservation when it is part of a proper noun or when specifically referring to land governed by a sovereign tribal nation.

In the United States, such land should be described as “within” the U.S. or within the borders of a specific U.S. state, to ensure that readers understand the sovereign nature of the tribe’s governance.

Rationale:

It’s misleading and imprecise to refer to an American Indian reservation without noting that it is sovereign land, governed by a tribal nation.

Native American/American Indian/Alaska Native

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

All three terms are acceptable, according to source preference, when describing an individual or group.

Rationale:

There is no standard general reference to people with this ancestry. Allowing sources to choose ensures dignified representation.

Nepali/Nepalese

Rule:

Use Nepali in reference to the language and Nepalese in reference to the people, culture and currency.

Rationale:

Precise references are required for reader clarity and source dignity.

Old World

Rule:

Do not use this term to refer to the Eastern Hemisphere, whether geography, language or culture. Instead, specify the relevant country, context or culture.

Rationale:

Precise references are required for reader clarity.

pro-life/pro-choice

pronouns

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

When relevant, refer to a person’s gender identity instead of that person’s pronoun.

When use of a nonstandard pronoun is necessary, verify that source’s use of that pronoun, ensuring that the source has consciously selected it as a form of self-reference. Use context or a source’s last name on second reference, when necessary for reader clarity.

Rationale:

Readers must clearly understand a source’s identity, when that identity is relevant to a story’s news value. Sources have a right to present themselves in ways that they feel are the most accurate and dignified.

prostitute

pseudonym

Rule:

Do not use pseudonyms for anonymous sources. Instead, use a descriptive reference, a source’s real nickname or initials.

Rationale:

It is imprudent to insert any fictional element into a news story. Use of a pseudonym does not advance reader clarity.

Pygmy

Rule:

Use this word only when relevant to a story’s news value and after confirming with a local source that it is an appropriate reference. Do not assume that people, especially those who live in forests in the central African region and who are short in stature, are Pygmies.

Rationale:

Accurate use of this term ensures source dignity and reader clarity.

quotes

Rule:

Quotes should be presented verbatim, whether they were originally spoken in English or translated into English from another language. Note that verbatim does not necessarily mean word for word, when translated. Translators should take care to retain the emotion, style and word choice of quotes to best reflect the speaker.

In general, minor grammatical errors or deviations in quotes should remain as is. Paraphrase quotes that lack clarity because of significant grammatical errors or deviations.

Rationale:

Quotes must be used judiciously, to ensure each source dignity and reader clarity.

race

Rule:

Do not refer to race as a primary descriptor of any person or group. Do not assume that perceptions or definitions of race are globally shared. Allow sources to self-identify by race in a quote.

Rationale:

Using race alone as a descriptor is imprecise. Relevant context is necessary to ensure source dignity and reader clarity.

racism/racist/racial

Rule:

Do not use these words to refer to general scenarios. When necessary, identify actions and policies as racist when they are verifiably motivated by race. Do not label a person as racist. Instead, refer to that person’s specific actions or policies with relevant context.

Rationale:

It is accurate to identify actions or policies as racist when they are verifiably motivated by race. Source dignity and reader clarity are prioritized when specific actions, rather than general labels, are specified in a story. Casual use of these words can inflame tensions.

Example:

Rhodesia, which took over the British colony of Southern Rhodesia and was not recognized by other nations, employed broad, racist policies to keep black Zimbabweans from owning land and holding good jobs. Read this full story from Zimbabwe here.

rebel/rebel group/rebellion

recipes

refugee

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not conflate refugees, who flee to a foreign country to escape danger, and internally displaced people, who are displaced by conflict within the borders of their own country.

Review the relevant legal context for a country’s definition of refugee, to ensure the word is used appropriately. When a host country’s definition of refugee differs from the definition in a source’s country of origin, describe the difference.

Rationale:

Accurate descriptions are key for source dignity and reader clarity.

religious references

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use lowercase letters to refer to the names of major religious historical events, including those specific to Christianity, Islam and other major religions, so as to avoid displaying preference for those major religions. Capitalize key holidays and calendar events in every case.

Rationale:

Capitalization of only mainstream religious events indicates bias.

Example:

Many Christians celebrate Easter to remember the resurrection of Jesus, a core tenet of their religion.

rice/paddy

Rule:

Do not use rice paddy or rice field to refer to the location where rice is grown. A paddy is the plant that produces the grain rice. Only use the term rice to describe the grain once it has been harvested.

Rationale:

Precise references are required for reader clarity.

seasons

Rule:

Refer to seasons according to the geography of a story’s dateline.

Rationale:

Seasons are determined by geography.

sex worker

Rule:

Use the term sex worker to describe someone who performs sex acts in a transactional exchange for goods, services, power or money. Do not use hooker, whore or other labels that convey moral judgment, unless a sex worker self-identifies as such. Add local legal context when relevant.

Rationale:

Precision is required when referring to controversial or potentially illegal scenarios, to ensure source safety and dignity.

slum/slumlord

Rule:

Do not use the word slum to describe an area, except when in quotes or as part of a proper noun. Instead, use words and phrases that precisely describe the conditions of the location.

Do not use slumlord to describe a person who leases or otherwise profits from a property considered to be low-quality.

Rationale:

Using words that do not have precise or consistent usage forces readers to make assumptions and can also deprive sources of dignity.

Example:

Despite the government’s numerous efforts to get rid of informal settlements, some have expanded. Now, officials say they are working to bring basic amenities, including water, sewage systems and roads, to some of these densely populated areas, while better regulating land ownership. Read this full story from Zimbabwe on Global Press Journal here.

Spanish names

spokesman/spokeswoman/spokesperson

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

In cases of gendered, official titles such as spokesman, use the formal title even when the gender noted in it does not appear to match the gender of the person holding it.

Rationale:

It’s not appropriate for a news agency to change a person’s official title.

state/province

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Include country names along with the name of an administrative division, whether it be a state, province or canton.

Rationale:

When writing for a global audience, precise geographic references ensure reader clarity.

suicide

survivor

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the word survivor to describe a person. Instead, use specific context and descriptions to refer to actions or situations.

Rationale:

This word is a general label that lacks precision and forces readers to make assumptions. Use of specific descriptions prioritizes source dignity.

Example:

The group of women meets monthly to discuss how they escaped domestic violence.

terror, act of

Rule:

Use this phrase when referring to coercive actions (violent or nonviolent) designed to create fear for the purpose of political or ideological manipulation. Add context, including details about the perpetrators, their goals and their relationships with existing authorities and other groups.

Rationale:

Use of this phrase ensures reader clarity by providing accurate and foundational news coverage of politically or ideologically complex scenarios.

terrorist

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the word terrorist to describe a person or people. Instead, specifically describe an action and include context such as ideology, methodology and affiliation. The term is acceptable in quotes.

Rationale:

Use of this term reveals bias based on a news outlet’s location, affiliation or ideology.

third gender/third sex

Rule:

Use these terms when referring to a country in which they are formally recognized as legal descriptors. Do not use interchangeably with transgender, transsexual or other related terms.

In local-language story versions, use appropriate pronouns related to third gender and third sex, when those pronouns exist.

Rationale:

Terminology related to gender identity and sex is not universal. Local legal contexts and accepted usages take precedence over Western preferences.

In some countries, there are specific legal or cultural definitions for third gender and third sex. In such places, local-language words and pronouns may exist and should be used for reader clarity.

tribe(s)

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use the word tribe when referring to a specific group of people who collectively self-identify as such. Always include the tribe’s name, along with descriptive context related to the tribe’s area, culture and geopolitical conditions. Do not refer to a tribe as belonging to a country.

Rationale:

Precisely referring to tribes ensures that people and contexts are described accurately. Imprecise words and phrases, such as ethnic and ethnic group, foster confusion, deprive sources of adequate affiliation and jeopardize reader clarity.

United Nations/U.N.

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this abbreviation for United Nations, with periods, in headlines and on second reference.

Rationale:

Consistent references to global entities ensure reader clarity.

United States/U.S.

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this abbreviation for United States, with periods, in headlines and on second reference.

Rationale:

Consistent references to global entities ensure reader clarity.

victim

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the word victim to describe a person. Instead, use specific context and descriptions to refer to actions or situations.

Rationale:

This word is a general label that lacks precision and forces readers to make assumptions. Use of specific descriptions prioritizes source dignity.

Example:

The group of women meets monthly to discuss how they escaped domestic violence.

Voodoo

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this name, capitalized, to describe this specific religion. Do not use this name as a general reference to witchcraft or other practices. Do not assume that people whose practices have similarities to Voodoo necessarily adhere to this religion.

Rationale:

Voodoo is a religion with specific practices. It should be referred to precisely and with the same deference used when referring to other religions.

white

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not conflate race with skin color. Only refer to a source’s skin color when central to the story’s news value. Always include local context.

Rationale:

It is not accurate to conflate race with skin color. Source dignity is prioritized when skin color is mentioned judiciously and only when pertinent to a story’s news value.

Example:

For generations, half the land was reserved for white settlers, who made up just 5 percent of the population by 1945, when those land policies were in full force. Read our story here.

witch/witchcraft/witch doctor

Rule:

Use the words witch or witchcraft in reference to this specific belief system. Use respectful language when referring to the people and practices related to this belief system. Do not use the word witch to describe a person who does not self-identify as such. It is acceptable to use these words in quotes only when the story also provides local context.

Do not use the word witch interchangeably with the terms traditional healer or herbalist.

Rationale:

Witchcraft is a belief system with elements and specific practices that incorporate multiple religions. Referring to witches, witchcraft and witch doctors with precision ensures source dignity and reader clarity.