Our style guidance includes hundreds of terms spanning six main categories, and contains detailed definitions, related terms, and additional resources.
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police brutality / police excessive force
Police brutality is the use of excessive force against people by law enforcement. It disproportionately affects Black and brown people. Mentioning racial disparities in police killings in related stories, and linking to a reliable source such as Mapping Police Violence, can help illustrate the scope of the issue.
content, advisory, and trigger warnings
Content, advisory, and trigger warnings are notices that a piece of content may contain material that people find offensive, graphic, or inappropriate for certain audiences, and/or that may set off mental health symptoms. It’s helpful to be as specific as possible about what content relates to a warning. For example, telling readers a piece contains a transphobic slur is more informative than “slur” alone.
Racial profiling is a practice in which law enforcement, and sometimes institutions or individuals in authority, single out people for suspicion of committing crimes with no evidence, based on their perceived race or ethnicity. A lack of diversity in media can contribute to coverage that reinforces these biases.
Abuse that takes place among people in a household or family unit. Domestic violence (often abbreviated as “DV” on social media) can also be called domestic abuse or family violence. A term like “battered women’s shelters” can be upsetting for women who have undergone physical abuse, and it may deter women who’ve undergone other kinds of abuse (sexual, financial, etc.) from seeking help. If relevant to your content, it may be helpful to include helpline numbers or links to resources (such as thehotline.org).
HIV and AIDS
People with HIV or AIDS have long faced stigmas and discrimination. When describing a person with HIV or AIDS, “person with [HIV or AIDS],” “person living with [HIV or AIDS],” or “person who is HIV-positive” is straightforward; following the person’s preferred terminology whenever possible aligns your framing with their lived experience. Disclosing an HIV or AIDS status can have major repercussions for a person’s life. As with disclosing any health condition, it should be done only when relevant and necessary to coverage, and it’s important to confirm with someone whether they are comfortable having their status written about publicly.
Opportunity gap refers to the circumstances in which people are born over which they have no control (e.g., race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, zip code) that impact their opportunities in life. Using terms like “opportunity gap” instead of “achievement gap” can draw attention to the systemic disparities that underserved communities face, and shifts dialogue away from blaming children for their life circumstances.
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