The Associated Press will avoid using the term “alt-right” following the violence in Charlottesville because the news organization feels the term “is meant as a euphemism to disguise racist aims.”
“So use it only when quoting someone or when describing what the movement says about itself. Enclose the term ‘alt-right’ in quotation marks or use phrasing such as the so-called alt-right (no quote marks when using the term so-called) or the self-described ‘alt-right,'” AP vice president of standards John Daniszewski wrote.
The Associated Press’ style guidelines, typically referred to as “AP Style,” are the used by most mainstream news organizations in America. “AP Style” is one of the first things taught in most journalism schools, so the decision will have a major impact on the use of the “alt-right” term.
The AP describes the term “alt-right” as “A political grouping or tendency mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism; a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.”
Daniszewski said the same rules should apply for the term “alt-left,” which President Trump and Fox News star Sean Hannity have used to counter the “alt-right” term.
The AP also noted that there is often confusion between the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist.”
“For many people the terms can be used almost interchangeably. Both terms describe groups that favor whites and support discrimination by race. There is however a subtle difference, at least in the views of the groups involved,” Daniszewski wrote.
He went on to explain how the terms should be handled when using AP Style going forward.
“White nationalists say that white people are a distinct nation deserving of protection, and therefore they demand special political, legal and territorial guarantees for whites. White supremacists believe that whites are superior and therefore should dominate other races. Depending on the group and the context, AP writers are free to determine which description most aptly applies to a group or an individual in a particular situation,” Daniszewski wrote.