SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Chronicle has joined a growing list of publications that will no longer use the term “Redskins” when referring to Washington’s NFL team.
Managing Editor Audrey Cooper said Wednesday that the newspaper’s style committee decided to eliminate the term because of a long-standing policy against using racial slurs.
“Not everyone has to be personally offended by a word to make it a slur,” Cooper said in a statement titled “A name unfit for print.”
“Make no mistake,” she said, “‘redskin’ is a patently racist term.”
The newspaper’s committee decided that though other team names, like the Chiefs and the Warriors, refer to Native Americans, they are not offensive in and of themselves and will continue to be used.
As for “redskins,” she said in a telephone interview, “we are in the process of eliminating the use of the term in agate and stories.”
The debate about whether the term is in fact an epithet has raged for decades, particularly in sports and media. The Chronicle’s style council revisited the issue last month at the request of Scott Ostler, one of its sports columnists, who has written advocating that the team change its name.
The Chronicle joins several other publications that have made the same decision over the years, including the Kansas City Star, Slate.com, and the Portland Oregonian, which dropped the term more than two decades ago. Sportscaster Bob Costas has also spoken out against the use of the word.
Cooper said the Chronicle will simply refer to the team as “Washington” in most cases. It will use the “Redskins” only when not using it would be confusing for readers, such as in a story about the controversy surrounding the term.
“We have a responsibility to set the tone for civil discourse,” Cooper said. “That doesn’t mean we set the rules, but it does mean we can lead by example.”