T he Diversity Style Guide is a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority and sensitivity. The guide includes terms and phrases related to race/ethnicity; religion; sexual orientation; gender identity; age and generation; drugs and alcohol; and physical, mental and cognitive disabilities.
The Diversity Style Guide is a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, based at the Journalism Department at San Francisco State University. The center’s mission is to make journalism more inclusive from the classroom to the newsroom. An earlier version of The Diversity Style Guide was produced in the 1990s by CIIJ’s News Watch Program with help from many journalism organizations.
In recent years there’s been much talk about “political correctness.” This is not a guide to being politically correct. Rather, it offers guidance, context and nuance for media professionals struggling to write about people who are different from themselves and communities different from their own. No one person can determine the correct usage of a word; this guide takes wisdom and advice from leaders in the field who have researched and considered the cultural, political and linguistic meanings of words. Most of the terms are taken directly from style guides prepared by other organizations. In those cases the terms link back to the original guides.
Most of the terms were taken, with permission, from these organizations and their style or media reference guides:
- Asian American Journalists Association and its Handbook to Covering Asian America
- Densho Encyclopedia
- Gender Spectrum
- GLAAD and the GLAAD Media Reference Guide, 9th Edition
- National Association of Black Journalists and the NABJ Style Guide
- National Association of Hispanic Journalists
- National Center on Disability and Journalism and the Disability Style Guide
- National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the NLGJA Stylebook Supplement on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Terminology
- Media Takes: On Aging, a publication of the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center and Aging Services of California
- National Institute on Drug Abuse Media Guide
- Michigan State University School of Journalism cultural competence series:
- 100 Questions & Answers About African Americans
- 100 Questions & Answers About Americans
- 100 Questions & Answers About Arab Americans
- 100 Questions & Answers About East Asian Cultures
- 100 Questions & Answers About Indian Americans
- 100 Questions & Answers About Hispanics & Latinos
- 100 Questions & Answers About Muslim Americans
- 100 Questions, 500 Nations (co-sponsored by the Native American Journalists Association)
- 100 Questions and Answers About Veterans: A Guide for Civilians
- Religion Newswriters Association and its Religion Stylebook
- TEAM Up (Tools for Entertainment and Media), a project of the Entertainment Industries Council, and the TEAM Up Reporting on Mental Health Style Guide
This new, expanded guide was supported by generous grants from the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University and the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation of the Society of Professional Journalists. It was reviewed by April Bethea, chair of the SPJ Diversity Committee.
The source of each term is noted at the end of each entry. Information included in brackets [ ] was added to the original definition. Terms not credited to other sources were written by the editor, usually in consultation with experts in the field.
About the Editor
The Diversity Style Guide was edited by Rachele Kanigel, an associate professor of journalism at San Francisco State University. For 15 years Kanigel was a newspaper reporter writing about diverse communities for The Oakland Tribune, The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC, and the Contra Costa Times. She is currently working on a book version of The Diversity Style Guide, which will expand on the terms and definitions listed here and provide further guidance on covering a diverse, multicultural world.
It takes a village
Research assistants Cecilia Abate, Chantel Carnes, Arash Malekzadeh and Danielle Parenteau-Decker helped assemble the guide. Graphics were designed by Harlan Frost.
Thanks to the following people for help with writing and editing definitions:
Rebecca Rosen Lum