|NPR correspondent Jacki Lyden interviews Nina, Thistle Farms employee (Photo: C. Snell)|
In Jacki Lyden's three-part NPR series about prostitution in Music City and the good work of Nashville's Magdalene House/Thistle Farms to help the victims of that trade, there is not one use of the words "illegal" or "illegals" to describe the people who violate the law in the context of prostitution. These words are used instead:
- Brittany Messina
- street walker
- former prostitute
- former offender
- law student
- man in a polo shirt
- these guys
- good-looking man
The immigration beat, in contrast, typically (and often exclusively) overlabels the people in its stories. This is not about saying "undocumented" or "illegal" - it's about sometimes saying neither.
Journalists and their readers should take note from Lyden's example of how to report on law-breaking without overlabeling. People are students, sisters, fathers, good-looking or not, with names. Don't forget to describe them that way.
What a nice story this is to make the point. Kudos to NPR and to Nashville's own Magdalene/Thistle Farms.