More newspapers refuse to publish NFL team’s nickname
This is the lead from an Oct. 14 story in The Washington City Paper:
The young man accused of killing former Washington Pigskins free safety Sean Taylor six years ago in a botched armed robbery in Miami is finally headed to trial.
NFL fans will know that none of the 32 teams in the league is nicknamed the “Pigskins.” But the name is not an error that slipped through layers of editing, but how the paper has chosen to refer to the Washington Redskins.
The Washington City Paper and a handful of other newspapers around the country have decided the name Redskins is a racial slur and refuse to use it when referring to the NFL team.
On Wednesday the San Francisco Chronicle announced that it would also stop referring to the football team as the Redskins.
“Our long-standing policy is to not use racial slurs—and make no mistake, ‘redskin’ is a slur—except in cases where it would be confusing to the reader to write around it. For example, we will use the team name when referring to the controversy surrounding its use,” Managing Editor Audrey Cooper told the Poynter Institute in an email.
The team’s name has been a source of controversy for years, but lately it has been making headlines because a group is trying to get the NFL to drop the name. On Wednesday members of the Oneida Indian Nation met with NFL officials to call for a name change, The Washington Post reported.
Even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the issue, telling the Associated Press if he were the owner of the Redskins he would think about changing the name.
Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has made his feelings on the issue clear.
“We’ll never change the name,” Synder told USA Today Sports. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
The Kansas City Star hasn’t used the team’s nickname in years. Public Editor Derek Donovan wrote in a blog post on the newspaper’s website that the name is a racial epithet.
“And I’ll even break my usual rule about commenting on issues outside The Star’s journalism to say that I find it inconceivable that the NFL still allows such a patently offensive name and mascot to represent the league in 2012,” Donovan wrote.
But reader reaction to the decision has been mixed. When The Oregonian stopped using nicknames like the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins in 1992 the majority of the feedback was negative.
Other readers welcome the changed, saying it’s a step in the right direction. Either way, it presents challenges for reporters and editors trying to write stories and headlines about the team.
The Washington City Paper decided to rename the team. It asked readers to vote on five different names. In all references the team is now called the Washington Pigskins.
This may seem a bit extreme, but I think the paper is making the right decision. If readers are uncomfortable and feel personally offended by the word then it shouldn’t be used.