Conscious Language resources for copy editors

This week I’m speaking at the virtual Fall National College Media Convention about using conscious language. It’s a topic I bring up often in my editing classes and one I was thinking about while I was still working daily as a news copy editor.

Using conscious language isn’t about having a list of banned words, and it’s not about being politically correct (a term that many use as derogatory). It’s about being fair, accurate and inclusive. And it’s about understanding your audience, a good thing to all around.

I put together a 20-minute presentation in 2020 about conscious language as a way of introducing the topic to high school journalism students. In the past year and a half, I’ve updated it with new examples (and some examples that aren’t exactly new, but that I didn’t previously have in the presentation.)

Many of those examples are based on things I’ve felt more strongly about since reading articles about them. Others are just things I’ve personality been keen on (look for my comments on terms for people over a certain age in a previous blog post, Words Matter, So I Need a New One.

So I thought it would be a great idea to share some of those articles, and some of the resources I use, with all of you.

Style guides that help when making conscious language choices

Style guides:

A few interesting articles to read

Reclaiming the ‘F’ Word: It’s For the Children, HuffPost, 08/14/2013

Elderly No More, New York Times, 4/19/2012

Covering Poverty: What to Avoid and How to Get It Right , Conscious Style Guide, 12/10/18 

Associated Press Stylebook blogMaking a Case for the Singular TheyThe Decision to Capitalize Black

Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans, Planetary Society, 10/5/15

On “Person-First Language”: It’s Time to Actually Put the Person First, the Radical Copy Editor, 7/3/2017

Changing the terminology to ‘people with obesity’ won’t reduce stigma against fat people, The Conversation, 10/14/2019

You can find more great articles on the subject linked on the Conscious Style Guide website.

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