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Inclusive Storytelling: A New Chapter

The Associated Press released over 300 new or revised entries in its latest stylebook, which includes a new chapter about inclusive storytelling. The style guide offers updates on how journalists should cover and refer to disabilities, race, gender, and sexual orientation.

The reference guide now advises using they, them, and their pronouns as much as possible to accurately describe someone who uses those pronouns to describe themself. Using a transgender person’s previous name — also known as a “deadname” — is only applicable if required to understand the news or if requested by the person.

Additionally, news media are informed to capitalize the word Deaf when referring to the “Deaf culture” or “Deaf community.” New guidance on critical race theory recommends explaining the term when using it in stories and not abbreviating to the CRT acronym when later referencing the concept. Plus, the chapter expanded on the use of migration and immigration and an explanation of the terms migrant versus immigrant.

“The new inclusive storytelling chapter emphasizes the importance of inclusive reporting and editing in ensuring accuracy and fairness and offers guidance to recognize and overcome unconscious biases; use thoughtful and precise language; reach beyond usual sources and story ideas; include necessary context and background; avoid tokenism; and make content accessible,” The Associated Press.

These changes will also help members of the media to earn the trust of previously alienated audiences. The reporters interacting with the public can respectfully ask better questions and enterprise unique, relevant stories when they have new connections and a deeper understanding of the issues impacting all the communities they cover. This will strengthen relationships within their market and allow more diverse stories to be told.

Marketers and leaders alike can take note from this and use similar practices within their own organizations’ internal and external communications. Everything from press releases to marketing materials should be updated to reflect an inclusive environment.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) efforts are not meant to be words in a handbook. What is preached should be practiced. It’s not enough to have a DEIB policy at your workplace or on your campus. People need to be conscious about making the changes necessary to evolve their own understanding and consistently be creating a welcoming space for others.

The AP has officially put these rules in place telling people how to talk the talk, and now, journalists and storytellers from all industries should walk the walk.

About the Author

Rachel Schneider

Rachel excels in journalism, media relations coaching, multimedia production, content creation, and crisis communications. She is a former TV reporter and anchor with more than ten years of experience in public speaking and local news, sports, and entertainment production. Interviewing a variety of people over the years, Rachel honed the...

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