Thursday, July 26, 2012

Editorial Process Tested In Commentary

As editor of VPR’s Commentary Series, one of my jobs is to advise writers on matters of journalistic standards and ethics. This includes language of all kinds. Our commentaries are intended to be civil and respectful, but we erred recently with a commentary by Willem Lange.

Pieces that you hear on the air and read online go through a process of a text edit and then a recording session at VPR, and in our process we missed the unfortunate instance of offensive racial slang in this commentary. The commentary was describing a moment 59 years ago when Willem and a Mexican friend were setting fence posts in the Texas heat. We should have flagged and removed Willem's use of the slang to describe his friend. But we missed it and therefore apologize sincerely. After we realized our error, we removed the piece from the online archive.

We also want to share Willem's own apology. He says, "As a storyteller and professional writer, I should have known this was an unacceptable term. I do now, and I regret having used it.”

Our goal at VPR is to be transparent on the workings of public radio, sharing the highs and the lows as they occur. This has been a strong reminder of the importance of our editorial process and policies and we are resolved to redouble our efforts to apply them vigorously as we go forward.

1 comment:

  1. Was the term old insulting or new insulting?


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