Times, Tribune no longer using the term "illegal immigrant"

"As a rule, we conform with AP style. We will do so on this, too," was the direct response from Ken Koehn, Tampa Tribune managing editor.

But the response from the the Tampa Bay Times wasn't as clear. Initially Communications Director Jounice Nealy-Brown told CL that since 2008 the Times style has been to avoid using "illegal alien" as well as "illegal immigrant," because "it is not always accurate (It would be inaccurate to call a person an 'illegal immigrant' if, for example, an immigrant enters the country legally on temporary documents, then overstays his or her limit)."

However, she said when writing about a specific case in which an individual's legal status is known, or in quotes, "illegal immigrant" is acceptable.

But a quick search for the term found two editorials in January that employed the phrase (on January 15 and January 28), as well as Alex Leary's January 14 story on Marco Rubio's plan for immigration reform.

Nealy-Brown then wrote back in an email that "as any style or grammar point, mistakes slip through the editing process. However, the decision by the Associate Press serves as a timely reminder about our own guidelines. "

Some conservatives went into high dungeon this week after the Associated Press announced that it would no longer use the term "illegal immigrant."

The news organization said that its AP Stylebook — the language and grammar guide used by news organizations across the country — will immediately stop approving the phrase.

"The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term 'illegal immigrant' or the use of 'illegal' to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that 'illegal' should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally, " explained Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll on AP's Web site.

The decision is a victory for a number of Latino-based organizations that have been advocating for years for newsrooms to stop employing the term, or even worse, "illegal aliens."

The news prompted CL to contact representatives from the two major Tampa Bay dailies to determine if they would follow suit.

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