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AP, NPR will avoid identifying national monstrosity as 'Obamacare

Two girls pose for a picture with a cardboard cut-out of US President Barack Obama in a tent defending 'Obamacare' at a street fair in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 3, 2012. Preparations for the Democratic National Convention have begun around Charlotte where the party is expected to nominate US President Barack Obama to run for a second term. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The Associated Press and NPR have both decided to cut back on their use of the word "Obamacare" in reference to President Obama's Affordable Care Act. According to NPR Managing Editor Stuart Seidel, the term "Obamacare" is "straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular."

On the flip side, the AP also insisted that using the law's official name, the Affordable Care Act, is similarly misleading and political.   The law's very name is "promotional," the AP noted, and "opponents believe it will not be affordable for individuals or the country..."

The Maynard Institute asked other media outlets their views on the subject of Obamacare vs. ACA.  Here's what they found:

  • NBC: A spokeswoman who did not want to be identified said that once the administration started using the term "Obamacare," the network decided it was acceptable.
  • Los Angeles Times:  Spokeswoman Nancy Sullivan said, "LA Times reporters and editors may consider 'Obamacare' as an acceptable term for the Affordable Care Act. In recently revising our guidelines, senior editors responded to staff requests to allow the usage, in light of widespread public understanding of the term and the use of the term even by the White House and supporters of the act, not just opponents." She said the revision took place last week.

  • "PBS NewsHour": Anne D. Bell, public relations manager, said, "Guidelines are to use Affordable Care Act as the first reference and then in subsequent references ACA, health care law or 'Obamacare' are acceptable alternatives."
  • Chicago Tribune: Joe Knowles, associate managing editor/editing and presentation, said he sent the following style entry to his staff on Wednesday: "Obamacare Note the lowercase 'c.' Acceptable in references to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which is frequently shortened to the Affordable Care Act. Try to use the formal or shortened formal name of the law somewhere in the body of a news story. Allow columnists and editorial writers greater license." Knowles told Journal-isms, "We are still urging people to try to get the official name in the body of the story somewhere, preferably high up."
  • New York Times: Spokeswoman Eileen Murphy  said, "There is no written policy in the Stylebook and we use both terms frequently."
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