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AP, NPR Curb Use of "Obamacare" Term

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Editors Say Association With Law's Opponents Persists

He-Said, He-Said Approach Faulted in Shutdown Coverage

New Miss America Booked for South Asian Journalists Gala

Darius Walker Given Vice President Title at CNN

D.C. Anchor J.C. Hayward Suspended in Corruption Probe

National Geographic's Faces Offer Racial Guessing Game

Editor Calls Nontraditional Households Bad for Newspapers

Frank L. Fouce Dies, Helped Launch Univision Precursor

Short Takes

New York expects to enroll as many as 1.1 million uninsured people over the next

Editors Say Association With Law's Opponents Persists

The Associated Press and NPR have decided to cut back on use of the term "Obamacare," with NPR describing the word as seeming "to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular."

Stuart Seidel, NPR's managing editor for standards and practice, issued his style ruling Tuesday after this columnist contended in a note to him that the term can no longer be defended as neutral.

(Credit: Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Separately, the AP went further and said the name of the health-care law, the Affordable Care Act, was also prejudicial in that "its very name is promotional; opponents believe it will not be affordable for individuals or the country. . . ."

Tom Kent, deputy managing editor and standards editor, wrote Tuesday, "In AP news reports, our preference is to use wording like 'the nation's new health insurance system,' 'the health care overhaul' or 'the new health care law.' "

Kent wrote, " 'Obamacare' was coined by opponents of the law and is still used by them in a derogatory manner. It's true that the White House, and even [President] Obama himself, have used the term on occasion. But the administration hasn't totally embraced 'Obamacare' and still uses the Affordable Care Act much of the time. We're sticking with our previous approach to 'Obamacare': AP writers should use it in quotes, or in formulations like 'the law, sometimes known as Obamacare, provides for …' "

The health care law dominated the news this week as enrollment for new online health insurance exchanges opened on Tuesday, generating visits by 2.8 million people to the website and more to others maintained by states. The number of visits was so high that many frustrated consumers could not get through.

At the same time, House Republicans demanded that the law, referred by most of them as "Obamacare," be delayed, leading to an impasse that resulted in a partial shutdown of the federal government. That sent hundreds of thousands of federal workers from their workplaces and provided more opportunities for journalists to use the "Obamacare" term, which many justified because the president, in a bid to co-opt the word, had begun using it himself.

NPR's ombudsman, Edward Schumacher-Matos, explained on Sept. 6 why NPR was using Obamacare.

Seidel said in that piece, "the term 'Obamacare' has lost its pedigree as a politically charged term."

Schumacher-Matos concluded then, "It is safe to say, in other words, that the term 'Obamacare' has entered the general vocabulary as a largely neutral term. How most of us understand it depends on what we think of the law, and of the president."

However, this columnist wrote Seidel, in Obama's Tuesday speech decrying the government shutdown, the president used the term "Affordable Care Act" 10 times but never used "Obamacare."

In a speech on Monday, Obama used "Affordable Care Act" four times, and again, "Obamacare" not at all.

By contrast, in a House debate on Saturday night, all the Democrats used "Affordable Care Act" and all the Republicans "Obamacare" for the time this viewer was watching. It was consistently "Obamacare" again on Tuesday as Republicans spoke after Obama's speech.

Moreover, since the Sept. 6 piece was written, the president acknowledged that "Obamacare" was still partisan and still negative.

Last Thursday in Largo, Md., Obama said of the law, "once it's working well, I guarantee you, they will not call it Obamacare."

Seidel replied, "You make some good and fair points. I appreciate having them raised. I’m not persuaded that the use of 'Obamacare' is wholly inappropriate, but I am persuaded that good effort needs [to be] made to avoid over-using it. I’m sharing that feeling with NPR's editors and correspondents."

Seidel's memo said, " 'Obamacare' seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular. And it seems to be on our air and in our copy a great deal. (I haven't counted, and I'm not going to count: numbers don't add up to good journalism.) But word choices do leave an impression. Please avoid overusing 'Obamacare.' On first reference, it's best to refer to the 'Affordable Care Act' or 'the health care law.' On later references, feel free to use 'Obamacare' but mix it up with other ways to refer to the law."

Journal-isms asked other news organizations for their policies on use of the term. Responses indicated that many had not caught up with NPR and the AP.

  • NBC: A spokeswoman who did not want to be identified said that once the administration started using the term "Obamacare," the network decided it was acceptable.

  • Los Angeles Times:  Spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said, "LA Times reporters and editors may consider 'Obamacare' as an acceptable term for the Affordable Care Act. In recently revising our guidelines, senior editors responded to staff requests to allow the usage, in light of widespread public understanding of the term and the use of the term even by the White House and supporters of the act, not just opponents." She said the revision took place last week.

  • "PBS NewsHour": Anne D. Bell, public relations manager, said, "Guidelines are to use Affordable Care Act as the first reference and then in subsequent references ACA, health care law or 'Obamacare' are acceptable alternatives."

  • Chicago Tribune: Joe Knowles, associate managing editor/editing and presentation, said he sent the following style entry to his staff on Wednesday: "Obamacare Note the lowercase 'c.' Acceptable in references to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is frequently shortened to the Affordable Care Act. Try to use the formal or shortened formal name of the law somewhere in the body of a news story. Allow columnists and editorial writers greater license." Knowles told Journal-isms, "We are still urging people to try to get the official name in the body of the story somewhere, preferably high up."

  • New York Times: Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy  said, "There is no written policy in the Stylebook and we use both terms frequently."

As reported this week, CNBC said it had asked half of 812 poll respondents if they supported Obamacare and the other half if they supported the Affordable Care Act.

"First thing: 30 percent of the public don't know what ACA is, vs. only 12 percent when we asked about Obamacare. More on that later," Steve Liesman reported.

"Now for the difference: 29 percent of the public supports Obamacare compared with 22 percent who support ACA. Forty-six percent oppose Obamacare and 37 percent oppose ACA. So putting Obama in the name raises the positives and the negatives. . . ."

He-Said, He-Said Approach Faulted in Shutdown Coverage

"Appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe just days before the looming deadline for a federal government shutdown, Politico's Mike Allen was assessing the politics of the controversy and predicting which Beltway players would get tagged with the blame for the intentional legislative debacle," Eric Boehlert wrote Tuesday for Media Matters for America.

"Despite the fact that Republicans were refusing to fund the government if the White House balked at the demand to essentially repeal its 2010 health care law, Allen suggested President Obama would be the real political loser.

"Why Obama? Because he's more famous than the GOP congressional leaders whose actions are causing the impasse.

" 'A lot of people in the country don't know John Boehner. There's no one in the world who doesn't know Barack Obama,' Allen explained. 'So when Washington is not working, it's going off the rails in a very visible way, a way that is vivid and touches people, that's not good ultimately for the president.'

"That's an awfully tenuous path to blame Obama for the Republicans' proudly obstructionist strategy to stop funding the government.

"Yet so it goes within portions of the Beltway press corps who are straining to include Democrats in the shutdown blame game; to make sure 'both sides' are targeted for tsk-tsk scoldings about 'Washington dysfunction,' and that the Republicans' truly radical nature remains casually ignored. This media act is getting old. And this media act may be emboldening the Republicans' extreme behavior. . . ."

Dan Froomkin agreed Tuesday in a piece for Al Jazeera America. "U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms," he wrote. "It is supposedly the result of a 'bitterly divided' Congress that 'failed to reach agreement' (Washington Post) or 'a bitter budget standoff' left unresolved by 'rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers' (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy. . . ."

New Miss America Booked for South Asian Journalists Gala

Nina Davuluri

Nina Davuluri, the 2014 Miss America and the first Indian American to wear the crown, is scheduled to participate in the annual awards gala Saturday of the South Asian Journalists Association.

Sovy Azhath, president of the association, which has "nearly 700 active paying members," told Journal-isms by email that a "fellow SAJA board member booked Miss America for our gala — Nina seemed willing and excited to attend."

Soledad O'Brien is scheduled to be keynote speaker and Kevin Negandhi, an anchor on ESPN SportsCenter, is to be master of ceremonies. The event, to be held at the Yale Club of New York City, is sold out, but the association is establishing a waiting list. "The capacity for this year's event is 150 and we have reached that number of guests on sept 28th," board member Jigar Mehta told Journal-isms by email.

Darius Walker Given Vice President Title at CNN

Darius Walker

CNN regional bureau chiefs Darius Walker, Pete Janos and Mary Lynn Ryan have been promoted to vice president, Terence Burke, vice president of newsgathering for CNN/U.S. told the CNN staff on Tuesday. There is no change in their duties, a CNN spokeswoman told Journal-isms.

Walker is chief of CNN's largest national bureau, based in New York, which includes 105 people from Maine to Indiana, according to a bio prepared by the New York Association of Black Journalists.

"He also oversees the business and financial news resources for CNN USA," Walker wrote in his LinkedIn profile. "Prior to his New York assignment, Walker was the senior director of newsgathering for CNN's Washington, D.C., bureau.

"Walker previously served as vice president of CNN Business News, where he managed business news coverage for CNN, CNNfn, Headline News and CNN Radio; served as supervising producer for CNNfn's Atlanta operations and as senior producer for the business news program, Lou Dobbs Moneyline. From 1996 to 1998, Walker worked for CNN's national desk in Atlanta as a senior editor and producer. . . ."

Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek editor who as executive vice president and managing editor of CNN Worldwide became the highest-ranking African American at CNN, resigned in January, saying he wanted to give then-new CNN chief Jeff Zucker "his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff." No African American held a position at that level under Zucker.

D.C. Anchor J.C. Hayward Suspended in Corruption Probe

J.C. Hayward

"WUSA9 weekday noon anchor J.C. Hayward — once called a 'news anchor legend' by the Washington Post — is among several people being sued by District [of Columbia] Attorney General Irv Nathan for their alleged roles in taking more than $3 million from a D.C. public charter school ," Will Sommer reported Tuesday for Washington City Paper.

"Former officials at Options Public Charter School, including the chief executive officer and chief operating officer, are accused of extracting money from the 17-year-old school through extravagant salaries and sweetheart contracts with companies they controlled. The District wants the school to be placed in receivership, with the assets of some defendants — although not Hayward's — frozen.

WUSA added, "No criminal charges have been filed.

"JC Hayward told WUSA9 she did nothing wrong, and all she did was sign bills in her capacity as chair of the charter school's board, and that she received no money. She says she resigned from the school's board last week.

"WUSA General Manager Mark Burdett says Hayward has been relieved of her duties at WUSA pending further investigation."

Hayward was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2011 [video.]

  (Credit: Martin Schoeller/National Geographic)

National Geographic's Faces Offer Racial Guessing Game

"When people ask Celeste Seda, 26, what she is, she likes to let them guess before she explains her Dominican-Korean background," Lise Funderburg writes in the October issue of National Geographic. The author of "Black, White, Other: Biracial Americans Talk About Race and Identity" (1994), Funderburg composed an essay that accompanies photographs of multiracial people by Martin Schoeller.

Funderburg's "The Changing Face of America" piece continues, Seda "points out that even then she has revealed only a fraction of her identity, which includes a Long Island childhood, a Puerto Rican adoptive family, an African-American sister, and a nascent acting career. The attention she gets for her unusual looks can be both flattering and exhausting. 'It's a gift and a curse,' Seda says."

Funderburg adds, "If we can't slot people into familiar categories, perhaps we'll be forced to reconsider existing definitions of race and identity, presumptions about who is us and who is them.

"Perhaps we'll all end up less parsimonious about who we feel connected to as we increasingly come across people like Seda, whose faces seem to speak that resounding line from Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself':

" 'I am large, I contain multitudes.' "

Editor Calls Nontraditional Households Bad for Newspapers

Making his argument that "while the decline of journalism coincides with the rise of the Internet, the Internet may not be the primary cause at all," Chris Powell, managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn., with a Monday-Friday circulation of 37,668, included this paragraph Saturday:

"Indeed, newspapers still can sell themselves to traditional households — two-parent families involved with their children, schools, churches, sports, civic groups, and such. But newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they're living in, and couldn't afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read. And such households constitute a rising share of the population. . . "

"Reached by email, Powell said he is 'out of the country on personal business' and hasn't had time to look at reaction to his column," Andrew Beaujon reported Tuesday for the Poynter Institute. " 'Maybe today,' he writes."

The Hartford Courant answered Powell Wednesday with an editorial, "Chris Powell Can't Pin Newspaper Woes On Welfare Moms."

Frank L. Fouce Dies, Helped Launch Univision Precursor

"Frank L. Fouce, an impresario of Spanish-language entertainment who turned the historic Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles into a prestigious venue for a burgeoning Latino market and helped launch the television network that became Univision, died Sept. 22 in Los Angeles," Elaine Woo wrote this week for the Los Angeles Times. "He was 85.

"The cause was lymphoma, said his daughter, Paula Fouce.

"Mr. Fouce was a co-founder of the Spanish International Communications Corp., which operated the first Spanish-language television stations in the United States, including KMEX-TV, Univision’s flagship outlet and the No. 1 source for Spanish-language news and entertainment in Los Angeles. . . . "

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Cross-Postings from The Root

LogicalLeopard I

Acts 11:26 ".....And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."

A friend pointed out to me years ago that the word "Christian" was not what early "Christians" called themselves, but what they WERE called. It even could have been a derogatory term, because the word Christian only appears twice more in the Bible, when King Agrippa says that Paul almost persuaded him to be a Christian, and when Peter says "if any man suffer as a Christian."

So we have a bit of the same with Obamacare. Someone started calling it that, and then everyone started calling it that, but many people dont' see anything derogatory about it. In fact, it could be argued that some people are more apt to embrace it because it's called Obamacare. Think of "Obama phones."

I think newspapers and agencies should start shifting it back to ACA, because afterall, that is the correct term of the legislation. They should probably do a lot of "....ACA, sometimes referred to as Obamacare" for a while until the shift is made.

Now, ACA is misleading too, because "Affordable" doesnt mean "Affordable to you" *LOL* All the cars on the market are affordable, but some of us can't afford to buy a hooptie, let alone a standard model family car, let alone a Bentley. But it's legislation, and it's supposed to be misleading *L*

Seweker6 That is where you can contact your Congressman/woman posting here does nothing but let you vent. Now take action.


How about "The Bigger Government Health Care Mess" for a name?


The tea party/GOP has done a masterful job of transforming the ACA into a nasty monster of "Obamacare" and the ignorant masses have been all too eager to run for cover. They fail the realize that "Obamacare" is the tea party/GOP's version of the much more benevolent and beneficial healthcare system of the ACA.


But yet senator Harry Reid keeps calling ACA "Obamacare" when referring to the republican's response to it. Harry Reid is playing right into that so called "nasty monster" you refer to. Are you willing to criticize his mis-management of the negotiations with House Republicans over the budget. Yes, we all know that the Republicans reap the most blame for this, but the Dems are doing their share to milk this crisis for political gain as well. Harry Reid puts his foot in his mouth as usual with CNN's Dana Bash.

Frank Griffin

The term is all of a sudden poison when it actually begins to go into effect. Funny how activation date and term becoming negative go hand in hand.


Obamacare=AFA=Sovietcare=welfare health= trickle-up Medicaid= trickle poverty


ACA= low information voter =


ACA = Obamacare= police state=


Interesting debate about which name to use that would be appopriate to this historic achievement!

To me no matter what, this new health system will be associated with the name OBAMA for ever!

Bear in mind this simple fact: since ... 1912, entire generations of politicians, intellectuals, civic and religious leaders had been grappling with this issue until ... Obama appeared on the scene. Look, some day even Republicans will be happy with the ACA, even though right now they are threatening to trigger what economists are already warning that it could be "the mother of all financial crisis", thus making the 1929 crisis look like a child's play. Watch here:

Frank Griffin

Or probably Obama will go the way of Hillary care, into the dust bin of history. Obamacare is one of the primary reasons the economy was been stuck for 5 years. I do think Obama and Obama care will be remembered but more in a negative, lets not do that again sort of way.

Words Matter..

Words continue to be the most powerful force in America. The power of life and death often [begins with] the utterance of a word.

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