Some Newspapers Banned the Name 'Redskins' in the 1990s
Three more newspapers have decided to ban the word “Redskins” in their reporting. But, according to JimRomenesko.com, these papers banned the word from their pages almost two decades ago.
In 1994, Roger Simon, a reporter with the Baltimore Sun said, “The Washington Redskins are being sued by American Indians who argue that the term ‘Redskins’ is ‘degrading, offensive, scandalous, contemptuous, disreputable, disparaging and racist.’ The Minneapolis StarTribune, the Portland Oregonian and the Salt Lake Tribune, will not print the word in their pages.”
So, did the papers go back to using the word “Redskins” and then ban it a second time?
Jim Romenesko emailed the sports editors of each of the papers and received responses from all three.
Seth Prince of the Oregonian said, “Our policy on Native-themed mascots and nicknames remains in place as it has since 1992. Here is a link with more context. If you’ve seen the word in the printed-paper please let me know; it may occasionally slip through despite our best efforts.
“Online, we have the same policy for local and wire stories that we post ourselves. There are parts of OregonLive, however, that have automated AP feeds over which we have no control, and the nicknames do appear in those stories. We don’t, however, push those to the more prominent pages of the site.”
Joe Baird of the Salt Lake Tribune: “We implemented the ban under a previous management team. The nickname was restored after a management change. At the start of this season, we reinstated the ban.”
StarTribune’s Glen Crevier: “The policy was reversed under [former editor] Anders Gyllenhaal in June 2003. It has not changed and there are no plans to do so now.”
A growing number of sports journalists, including Peter King, Christine Brennan and Bob Costas, as well as some news companies have said that the word is a racial slur and should not be used.
Mother Jones, Slate.com, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Kansas City Star have recently boycotted the word in their reporting.
Late last month, Audrey Cooper, the managing editor of the Chronicle, said that the newspaper’s style committee eliminated the word because of its long-standing policy against using racial slurs.
“Not everyone has to be personally offended by a word to make it a slur," Cooper said in a statement titled "A name unfit for print," according to USA Today.
"Make no mistake," she said, "'Redskin' is a patently racist term."
Peter King, of Sports Illustrated and NBC, said that he felt uneasy using the word when he wrote about Washington’s NFL team.
King said, “I decided to stop entirely because it offends too many people, and I don’t want to add to the offensiveness. Some people, and some Native American organizations—such as the highly respected American Indian Movement—think the nickname is a slur. Obviously, the team feels it isn’t a slur, and there are several prominent Native American leaders who agree. But I can do my job without using it, and I will.”
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