Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Paper Bans Sports Names That Offend Indians

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Paper Bans Sports Names That Offend Indians

Article excerpt

MINNEAPOLIS -- People are abuzz about a new Star Tribune newspaper policy not to publish nicknames and logos of sports teams that are offensive to American Indians.

Editor Tim McGuire, a lifelong Catholic, says his faith and this decision "are not disconnected." However, a balancing act exits between faith in the marketplace and the realities of running a newspaper, he said.

The policy, announced in late January and listed in detail in the Feb. 5 edition, is not a total ban. "We will only be lifting the names we don't want used," McGuire said, adding that a tricky decision is where to draw the line.

Tribal names such as "Seminoles" won't be omitted, although context will be watched closely. City names will be used in the case of teams like the Washington Redskins, the policy says. The "Fighting designation will be dropped when it predeces tribal names.

The paper won't alter people's quotes when they use nicknames and won't act as a self-censor by not running certain photographs. "However, we will try to avoid images of fans mocking Native Americans," the policy states.

"We are not going to mess with other people's reality," McGuire said. He doesn't expect practical application to be a big problem.

A key staff member attended a conference for American Indian journalists last summer and returned with a change of heart, reversing his position on the use of such names. This information was shared with McGuire, who said he thought about if for a few months before making a decision.

"For a long time I'd clung to the idea that we shouldn't do something like that," McGuire said, because journalists should report the news, not be the news. "But (journalists) have often changed language."

Critics contend the newspaper is trying to appear virtuous for its own benefit. However, representatives of American Indian groups based in the Twin Cities say this is a step in the right direction. …

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