Over the last year, a once-fringe online group has risen to become a dominant part of the political nomenclature. The “alt-right” or “alternative right” has been championed by websites like Breitbart, but those looking at this group from afar see its followers as having blatant ties to racism, xenophobia, and overall white nationalism. That’s why there’s been a growing call for media organizations not to use “alt-right” as a blanket descriptor but instead specify what its members really believe.
Now the Associated Press has weighed in with a blog post aimed at clarifying the best way to describe the loose political group. According to the AP, whose style guide is preferred among newsrooms across the country, journalists should “avoid using the term generically and without definition.” The post goes on to provide an example from one of its stories in which the alt-right was described as “an offshoot of conservatism mixing racism, white nationalism and populism.” Most important, however, is that reporters shouldn’t report on how the group’s members describe themselves but on what they do and what their implied positions are.