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WHY THE WORD ‘NIGGER’ IS STILL WRITTEN IN FULL IN DUTCH NEWSPAPERS

I was supposed to translate and post last week… then volcanic eruption SOURCE: https://www.oneworld.nl/lezen/analyse/waarom-het-n-woord-nog-voluit-in-de-krant-staat/?mbid=email_onsiteshareThe editors of NRC, de Volkskrant and Trouw, among others, do not have hard rules about racist language, according to a survey. For example, the n-word and ‘blank’ can still end up in the columns. How do the editors view their responsibility? ‘We follow society.’

In the reports about Thierry Baudet’s racist texts in the run-up to the elections, the n-word was used in full in almost all newspapers. Moreover, part of the journal that came to Baudet’s story was not too bad to use the word in full: “Did you ask if someone’s sister could come home with a * beep *?”, “Thierry answer, did you ask? , whether he wants his sister to come home with a * beep *? ” And again, and again. Nobody asked what a man has to say at all about who his sister comes home with, but that aside.

Do newspapers and newspapers actually have rules about racist or colonial language and who determines them? I put these questions to the editors-in-chief of NRC , Trouw , de Volkskrant , De Groene Amsterdammer and Free Netherlands . Spoiler: none of the editors has a conclusive policy.

Master himself

Sjoerd de Jong, ombudsman at NRC who readers can turn to with editorial questions, calls the language policy of his newspaper ‘liberal’ : “The newspaper follows the language as it develops in society, without taking the lead.” Practice is more nuanced, De Jong continues: “ NRC does not so much follow ‘society’, but a progressive part of it. In a recent supplement on slavery, “enslaved” was the norm. ” Editors, according to a number of pieces on various issues of language use in the newspaper, are largely masters of their own language.

The editors-in-chief of de Volkskrant, Trouw and NRC say that authors in principle choose their own words

Also Volkskrant editor-in-chief Pieter Klok says he is striving for progressive language use, as does deputy editor-in-chief Martijn Roessingh of Trouw . But if newspapers do indeed adopt a progressive attitude, why does it still often go wrong with racist (n-word) or colonial (‘Third World’) language?

The editors of de Volkskrant

, Trouw and NRC all three say that authors in principle choose their own words. But that is not possible without a guide. De Volkskrant and Trouw have a Style Book, at NRC a Style Guide, in which the most diverse language issues are described. Think of the use of words such as “immigrant” (in all style pointers: avoid) and the n-word (in all newspapers: only in quotations), but also punctuation marks and dashes, or the spelling of geographical names. The style guides are mainly used by the editors and are reportedly regularly updated. And with all the newspapers surveyed here, the editor-in-chief ultimately has the final say The final judgment has not yet been reached on “white” versus “white” It is striking that both Trouw and de Volkskrant and NRC have several alternatives available for a range of concepts. There is no longer a discussion about the n-word – no editor wants to use that (which does not include columnists, but more about that later) – but the final verdict has not yet been reached on “white” versus “white”. You can also find slave, enslaved and enslaved in all newspapers. Even within pieces there can be inconsistency on that. According to the editors-in-chief, this is, for example, to promote readability (using ‘someone with a non-Western migration background’ every time in a piece, is difficult to read), or simply because not all interviewees quoted use the same terminology. Using or naming words Quotes are a different story. Both Pieter Klok of de Volkskrant and NRC ombudsman De Jong let it be known that they are untouchable. De Jong: “If you want to know what Baudet texted, or if you want to portray him as a journalist, you have to quote him. This has to do with the distinction between using words to refer to reality and mentioning a word in a quote or to say something about that word. That distinction sometimes seems to blur in discussions about racist language: the n-word in quotations, historical references or other forms of mention is then no longer allowed. ”

The distinction between using and mentioning is not always allowed. unambiguous, says De Jong. He stays with Baudet’s example for a while: “If you quote him so often and eagerly or uncritically that mentioning becomes another provocative or offensive form of practice, it can become a form of” indirect racism “.” In any case, a new assessment must be made.

Quotes are untouchable: if you want to know what Baudet texted, you have to quote it

Yet you still throw racist words in the face of your readers. Would there be room in Dutch newspapers to write racist words partly with asterisks? There is also something to consider, such as this article in The Guardian (with n-word) shows, but placed the asterisk functions as’ a shield between the reader and evil ‘. The Guardian concludes: “The asterisk is the only keystroke that can rob words of their power.”

Volkskrant editor-in-chief Klok does not rule out that the newspaper will use that solution, because, he says fiercely: “I don’t really want the n-word in my newspaper at all anymore.” He cites an example: “Recently we had a piece about protest songs, in which the Singer Zonder Naam was also discussed who sang about racism. It mentioned the name of a number in which the n-word occurred. When I read that, I thought: I really don’t want it anymore. ”

Then why was it there anyway? Klok: “Because up to now we have the line that it is allowed in quotations, which include book and song titles. Quotes are sacred. I can’t quite grasp the repercussions of asterisks yet, it must be understandable for all readers, but I imagine we are entering it. ”

How political is language?

René Moerland , editor-in-chief of NRC , does not reject the use of asterisks in advance, but clarity comes first, he explains: “You have to be able to describe what the debate is about. Imagine a name of a painting in which you replace part of a word with asterisks, do readers know which word you mean? On the other hand, we naturally have the luxury that we have the space to give context in the newspaper. That also argues against the use of asterisks, because you can always explain the word use. ”

We want to report well, not form the social debate with activist language

René Moerland, editor-in-chief NRC

Is there also a fear that he will lose more conservative readers if he gets ahead of the troops in terms of language? Moerland: “No, it is not calculating. I see language as a journalistic choice, not a political one. In the first place, we want to report properly, not to form the social debate with activist language. Word choice says something about people you interview or about whom you make a report, we want to use it broadly and refer to it without taboos. We are deliberately following. ”

White and white are still used interchangeably in NRC . Moerland recognizes that “white” socially can become just as not done as the n-word. But if you already feel on your clogs that white is going to disappear to describe skin color, why not get rid of it now? Moerland: “Because we want to show pluralism in society. That is more important than our position on the word. ” Even if it hurts? “Reporting sometimes hurts. The moment white acquires more and more political connotation and white becomes more the norm, it will also change for us. ”

But the role of the media is also to question and challenge power. feel, so the question is whether that should not be expressed in the word usage. Moerland rejects that: “Take a word like ‘enslaved’. The word “slave” is still often used in society and if you refuse that too early as a newspaper, the reporting does not reflect society. ” He refers to the cultural pages, where “slave” hardly occurs anymore: “In the museum world,” enslaved “is much more the standard and you can see that in the reporting.”

Pieter Klok of de Volkskrant also does not want to know anything about the relationship between power and language. This becomes clear when he is presented with the discrepancy between his wish not to see the n-word in the Volkskrant columns on the one hand and the printing of columns by, among others, Arthur van Amerongen, in which the n -word recently appeared in full. Power systems are also perpetuated by language, and if you measure power as a journalist, wouldn’t that be a reason to get ahead of the troops? Klok: “Is that the case that language preserves power? There is room for discussion about this. ”

Columnists are free, he says. Even if their text is racist or Islamophobic? Klok: “Then you come to the question of what racism is. The literal definition according to the Van Dale is that you consider one people inferior to another. I don’t read that in our columnists. ” But you can express that belief in many more or less subtle ways, can’t you? “But you can also read it while it may not be,” he responds. He rejects that racism is a power system: “You may wonder whether you should broaden the definition of racism. You have to prevent everything from being called racist. ”

Also Trouw was asked about this discrepancy between the desire to be progressive in language and the publishing of columns by, for example, Sylvain Ephimenco , in which racism being downplayed. The newspaper indicated that it would not go into more detail on the issue and would stick to the previous emailed general comments on language use.

Weekly-magazines-have-more-leeway

Weekly-magazines are probably included less common for linguistic dilemmas: they do not cover the hard news and do not have to report on racist and sexist excesses by Baudet and others, for example. Have you just seen that last year they suddenly joined Vrij Nederland with the famous writer and poet Simon Carmiggelt (1913-1987) were in their stomach, says editor-in-chief Ward Wijndelts: “ VN existed for eighty years and we published the best piece every year. We also selected a piece from Carmiggelt from the late 1940s, about Sinterklaas. The n-word was in it. That was not possible, but what should you do? Are you going to mess around in Carmiggelt’s work? In the end we chose another piece by Carmiggelt. ”

He could also have chosen asterisks, just like in an interview with Sylvana Simons in which reference was made to the moment at De Wereld Draait Door where Simons’ political career began: when Martin Šimek used ‘zw * rtj * s’ and Simons reacted to it. Vrij Nederland wrote the word out in full. Wijndelts is not sure why and suggests calling the editor-in-chief immediately. Five minutes later he calls back: “It has been considered not to write it out in full, but the word is not used enough for that and people may not know what you mean. This is different with the n-word, which everyone knows by now. I do not necessarily reject the use of asterisks. The principle is quite simple: you want to show civilization in your language and that can be done in various ways. “

Writing intellectuals think about their words themselves, you can’t just touch them

In all media surveyed for this article, the responsibility for language use lies partly with the author, but with de Groene Amsterdammer this goes one step further, it appears as editor-in-chief Xandra Schutte describes her weekly: “De Groene is an authors’ magazine. If we find word usage problematic, the best thing we can do is call the author to ask if he or she is sure he or she wants to say something that way. ” She remembers that professor (emeritus) of Sociology and author Abram de Swaan once became angry when the final editors had replaced the word “white” with “white” in his paper. Schutte: “We should not have done that just like that. Writing intellectuals think about their own words. The language someone uses is directly related to someone’s thinking, so as an editorial team you cannot just touch that. ”

Moreover, Schutte believes that as a white woman she is not always in a position to approach someone. speaking on word usage. She takes as an example Stephan Sanders, who calls herself “brown”. Schutte: “Some people find that a problematic term, but I have nothing to say about what he calls himself.”

‘Language-is-a-wreck-construction “

The examples presented by Wijndelts and Schutte show that what is possible and what is not possible is constantly changing. Wijndelts has no illusions about his own capacity as a pioneer: “I am confronted with my perspective when there is criticism and that is necessary, because I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. My job is to listen to anyone who does not feel comfortable in the current constellation, and not to downplay their perspective. Take this conversation we’re having now, that’s ammo for change. Vrij Nederland is not a pioneer, but in ten years’ time I hope to look back and conclude that we were not lagging behind either. ”

The examples presented by Wijndelts and Schutte show that what is possible and what is not possible is constantly changing. Wijndelts has no illusions about his own capacity as a pioneer: “I am confronted with my perspective when there is criticism and that is necessary, because I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. My job is to listen to anyone who does not feel comfortable in the current constellation, and not to downplay their perspective. Take this conversation we’re having now, that’s ammo for change. Vrij Nederland is not a pioneer, but in ten years’ time I hope to look back and conclude that we were not lagging behind either. ”

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