Sunday, August 12, 2012

More on the Dreaded "E" word ...

Since I chastised the Philadelphia Inquirer the other day for calling "elderly" a feisty 66-year-old who held on to her money while being pummeled by a mugger, I got a copy of its stylebook entry for the word.
A newspaper's stylebook is where --after painstaking thought and consultation with many --
it documents guidelines for reporters' usage of all kinds of words and phrases. The Inquirer's stylebook was launched and carefully nurtured over a couple of decades by Gene Foreman, who was also a stickler for ethics and went on to write "The Ethical Journalist: Making Responsible Decisions in the Pursuit of News."

So what do you think of The Inquirer's stylebook entry below? Is mid-70s "elderly?" (I recently wrote about a man nearing 70 who called himself "middle aged." ) How old do you have to be to be elderly? 

Were my parents "elderly" when in their 70s, they brought their skis through customs and the customs official laughed and, in disbelief,  asked. "What are those?" (Whether elderly or not, they were insulted.)

Is "senior citizen" better?

Got better words for the media to use? Please let me know so we can nudge them in that direction.

elderly Avoid the uncalled-for use of this term. See senior citizens.   Edit   |   Delete

senior citizen Use this term only when referring to people of general retirement age, in the mid-60s, or older. Elderly and elderly people also may be used when referring to people in the mid-70s or above - but because these terms can connote frailty, be cautious in employing them.

P.S.  The reporter who wrote about the 66-year-old being mugged did break the style book rules.

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