Seattle station will report on ‘white nationalism’ instead of ‘alt-right’

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Seattle’s KUOW is avoiding using the term “alt-right” in its reporting, opting instead for “white nationalism” and “white supremacy.”

A post on KUOW’s website Monday quoted a memo to programming staff by Cathy Duchamp, KUOW’s managing editor. “… ‘[A]lt-right’ doesn’t mean anything, and normalizes something that is far from normal,” Duchamp wrote. “So we need to plain speak it.”

In the post, Online Editor Isolde Raftery said the station would reconsider using the term if it becomes “better defined and understood by the general public.” But in the meantime, she said, “we will avoid vague words that neutralize anti-social and abnormal ways of thinking.”

Duchamp also told staff that “if you’re in a situation where you must use ‘alt-right,’ please use the phrase ‘so-called alt-right, a white nationalist movement.’”

The term alt-right is relatively new in mainstream usage and was a runner-up as Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. Oxford defines the term as an “ideological grouping associated with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints.” It does not use “white nationalism” or “white supremacy” to describe the term.

The “alt-right” has received increased attention with President-elect Trump’s announcement of Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon, former head of Breitbart News, once described the outlet as the “platform for the alt-right.”

The move by KUOW is in line with NPR guidelines, which Mark Memmott, NPR’s supervising senior editor, standards and practices, clarified in a Nov. 14 memo, the day after Trump named Bannon to the post.

Memmott said “additional words are needed” when discussing the alt-right movement and concluded that “‘white nationalist’ is the most concise description.”