Monthly Archives: September 2012

Why we use term ‘illegal immigrant’

During last week’s Online News Association conference, keynote speaker Jose Antonio Vargas appealed to news organizations to move away from the term “illegal immigrant.”
“The term dehumanizes and marginalizes the people it seeks to describe,” said Vargas, a journalist who has written about his own illegal status. He argued that entering the country without appropriate documentation is a civil, not a criminal offense. Also, although an action can be “illegal,” a person cannot be illegal, and describing one as such diminishes his or her humanity.
The New York Times and the Associated Press are among the news organizations that have chosen the term as the fairest way to describe people who are in the United States without legal status. The News Sentinel adheres to the AP style on this matter.
Phil Corbett, the Times’ associate managing editor for standards, issued an email explaining why the newspaper uses the term:
“Times reporters try to be detailed, descriptive and as accurate as possible in writing about immigrants in a whole range of different situations,” he wrote. “But in referring in general terms to the issue of people living in the United States without legal papers, we do think the phrases “illegal immigrants” and “illegal immigration” are accurate, factual and as neutral as we can manage under the circumstances. It is, in fact, illegal to enter, live or work in this country without valid documents. “Some people worry that we are labeling immigrants as “criminals” — but we’re not. “Illegal” is not a synonym for “criminal.” (One can even park “illegally,” though it’s not a criminal offense.)
“Proposed alternatives like “undocumented” seem really to be euphemisms – as though this were just a bureaucratic mix-up that can easily be remedied. Often those phrases seem deliberately chosen to try to soften or minimize the significance of the lack of legal status. We avoid those euphemisms just as we avoid phrases that tend to cast a more pejorative light on immigrants. For example, we steer clear of the shorthand “illegals” and also the word “aliens,” both of which we think have needlessly negative connotations.”
Language and meanings change over time, and the News Sentinel will continue to evaluate its use of this term. But for now, we believe it is the most neutral we have to address an issue that is emotional and divisive.

News Sentinel wins national FOI award

The News Sentinel received the Freedom of Information Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors during the journalism organization’s national convention this week in Nashville.
The award recognizes journalists or newspapers who advance freedom of information, make good use of FOI principles or statutes, or significantly widen the scope of information available to the public.
The News Sentinel was honored for its coverage of the case of former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner. The newspaper went to court twice in 2011 to disclose sealed information about the judge’s criminal activity and the investigation into the case. Reporter Jamie Satterfield, who led coverage of the story, accepted the award.
This is the third time in the News Sentinel has received the national FOI award. The newspaper also was honored in 2008 for its coverage and subsequent lawsuit challenging the Knox County Commission’s “Black Wednesday” appointments. In 1999, the newspaper was recognized for its fight to disclose the legal fees paid by the public for the defense of rapist and alleged serial killer Thomas “Zoo Man” Huskey.

Warning! Lottery results moving in the paper

We’re about to relocate the lottery results, which for many years have appeared on Page 2A of the print edition. This will cause confusion, and perhaps distress, among some readers.
The numbers will appear on the Sports Scoreboard page starting Tuesday, Sept. 25. The reason is simple. Page 2A could be released to the press room much earlier if we weren’t waiting for the lottery drawing each night. The Scoreboard page, on the other hand, is often the last page to be closed each night because we want to get the latest sports scores in. So the lottery won’t affect its production.
I hesitate to make changes that will inconvenience or confuse readers. But in this case, the improved workflow should have a positive effect on our press start times and our delivery times, which will return the benefit to the readers..

‘Cul de Sac’ comic coming to an end

In the late ’80s and ’90s, great comic strips were dying before their time. “The Far Side” was in nearly 2,000 newspapers when its creator, Gary Larson, decided to stop drawing in 1995, afraid his ideas would grow stale after 15 years. The cartoon lived on, of course, in calendars and books — not to mention business and school presentations, which seem to have a desperate need for anthropomorphic chickens and dinosaurs.
“Bloom County” was another classic that came and went too quickly. Berke Breathed launched his whimsical critique of Middle America in 1980 and brought it to a close in 1989, after winning a Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. He, too, wanted to end the strip while it was still fresh, though he did continue to draw Sunday-only comics for a number of years.
Perhaps the most jarring termination was that of “Calvin and Hobbes,” the beloved strip by Bill Watterson about a boy and his stuffed tiger. It began in 1985, soared to success, then ended 10 years later when Watterson declared he had done all he could do “within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels.” He was burned out.
alice.jpgNext week, another popular strip is passing prematurely. This time, though, the artist has little choice. “Cul de Sac” was begun in 2007 by Richard Thompson. The comic, featuring wise suburban preschoolers, was one of the most successful of the past decade, and last year Thompson won the Cartoonist of the Year Award from the national Cartoonists Society.
At the same time, however, he was struggling with Parkinson’s disease, and this year it became impossible for him to continue drawing the strip. So today is our last installment of “Cul de Sac.”
Happily, another strong comic is waiting in the wings. Hilary Price has been drawing “Rhymes with Orange” since 1995. Twice she has won the cartoonists society award for best panel, but for one reason or another, “Rhymes with Orange” never made its way onto the News Sentinel’s page. Now it has. The comic, which is sometimes a single panel in the shape of a strip, offers bright, insightful and downright hilarious glimpses into modern life. Often a redheaded female character, which Price admits is an alter-ego, appears to poke fun at herself.
We’ll miss “Cul de Sac,” but we think you’ll enjoy “Rhymes with Orange,” which starts in Monday’s comics section.

Rhymes with Orange

Rhymes with Orange


News Sentinel launches iPad app

We’ve just released our latest news product, a news app for the iPad.
For better than a year we’ve had our E-Edition for iPad, which is a replica of the daily newspaper enhanced with enlargeable type, live hyperlinks and embedded video and photo galleries. It’s pretty cool, but our new app is designed specificailly for the iPad.

News Sentinel iPad app

News Sentinel iPad app

It’s highly visual and updated throughout the day. It has video and photo galleries, too. It also is organized by content groupings that don’t necessarily follow our traditional newspaper and website sections. For instance, the app has sections on Government & Politics, Courts & Crime, Tennessee Outdoors, Special Reports and Music.
The app is in its first version, and we’re doing a soft launch with no promotion to make sure it is running well and we’re doing a good job of populating it with content. A new version with more features already is in the works. But if you’d like to check this one out, we’d love to get feedback. It’s free, at least for now. You can find it by searching for the News Sentinel in the App Store or clicking on this link while in your iPad.