Many news outlets are issuing new guidelines regarding the usage of the term “alt-right” to describe the fringe conservative movement characterized by racially-charged rhetoric, anti-semitism, and misogyny. The faction has been at the forefront of media discussion in the last few weeks, as many Americans credit Breitbart News, a self-proclaimed alt-right publication, with the rise in popularity and subsequent election of Donald Trump. Stephen Bannon, recently named as the Trump administration’s chief strategist to the White House, has been the executive chairman of Breitbart News for the last five years.
Readers have taken to Facebook and Twitter to express dissatisfaction with the usage of “alt-right” by news outlets, claiming that the term legitimizes and normalizes the group’s extreme beliefs. Social media users are urging the media to opt for terms that better convey the faction’s extremism, with many suggesting “white nationalists” or “neo-nazis” as alternatives. In response to growing pressure from readers, many organizations, including The Washington Post, NPR, Associated Press, and ThinkProgress, have released new guidelines for how to refer to the group in reporting so as not to obscure or downplay the extremism of their beliefs. Most of these guidelines advocate for describing and defining the term rather than the usage of a different one.
The debate comes at a time of increased focus on language and terminology, particularly amongst social media users seeking to define terms for groups and concepts that are gaining visibility.
h/t New York Times