Diversity Style Guides for Journalists

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Is it preferable to refer to someone as a person with autism, or as an autistic person? Should you explain the use of unconventional personal pronouns in stories? When do you use the term Indigenous and when do you use the term Aboriginal? What’s wrong with saying that someone “suffers from” a certain condition? The following diversity style guides and other resources can help journalists critically examine their stories for problematic issues.

 

Style Guides That Address Multiple Dimensions of Diversity

  • The Conscious Style Guide provides resources, articles, and newsletters on topics like age, gender, race, appearance, and religion.
  • The Diversity Style Guide from San Francisco State University’s journalism department includes terms and phrases related to topics like age, drugs and alcohol, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and race and ethnicity.
  • The Global Press Style Guide offers rules for referring to the people of the more than two dozen developing countries where the Global Press Journal reporters work.
  • Not a style guide per se, but a valuable resource: The Society of Professional Journalists and the Trans Journalists Association have teamed up to create the Race and Gender Hotline, a free consultation service to help reporters on deadline address questions about race and gender in their stories.
  • The Photographer’s Guide to Inclusive Photography, produced by PhotoShelter and Authority Collective, discusses issues related to photographing race, gender, the Global South, Indigenous communities, and LGBTQ+ communities.
  • The Symmetry Style Guide: Writing about People with Dignity is specifically aimed at writers working on journalistic articles for Symmetry magazine, but it could be helpful to a wider audience as well.

 

Style Guides That Address Coverage of Specific Communities and Issues

Race and Ethnicity

  • The Asian American Journalists Association has published a guide to covering Asian America.
  • The National Association of Black Journalists has a style guide on terms and language related to Black American history, culture, and current issues.
  • The National Association of Hispanic Journalists publishes a downloadable Cultural Competence Handbook that aims to help journalists and others “develop a working vocabulary related to diversity issues, avoiding stereotypes.”
  • The Native American Journalists Association maintains numerous reporting guides on specific topics relevant to reporting on Indigenous communities.
  • The University of British Columbia offers language guidelines on writing about Indigenous peoples.

Gender and Sexuality

Health, Disability, Addiction, and Aging

Trauma

Incarceration

  • The Marshall Project offers a guide for writing about covering people who are and have been incarcerated.

 

(This resource list was originally published by The Open Notebook on January 21, 2020 in “Gut Check: Working with a Sensitivity Reader,” by Jane C. Hu. It was most recently updated in March 2022. Have we missed a valuable resource? Please let us know.)