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Public Editor: The Globe will avoid racist term alt-right

Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead.

On Monday, The Globe and Mail issued this note to all editorial staff:

The term alt-right refers to a collection of groups or individuals espousing racist, fascist or white-supremacist ideologies.

We should avoid this term as much as possible.

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If we must use it, in a quote, for example, we should provide a definition of the term.

On Friday, I urged this very thing with this column/blog.

A number of readers wrote to urge The Globe to codify this notion and I've heard from lots of you. You urged The Globe to call a lie a lie, not a claim, and to not be afraid to be blunt in the face of spin and propaganda.

A few of you quite rightly pointed out that this phrase is Orwellian Newspeak.

On Monday as well, the Associated Press, a major U.S. news service, published this note. The AP also said the term should be avoided. "In the past, we have called such beliefs racist, neo-Nazi or white supremacist."

Now not all readers agreed. One complained to me that my column/blog was based on a "fake" news report about the white supremacist Richard Spencer. I sent him the link from the New York Times story, written by a reporter who has there and heard the statements first-hand.

Now more than ever there is nothing that can replace reporting on the scene and direct witnesses to events.

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More

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