NPR intends to limit the use of the word "Redskins."
Standards editor Mark Memmott issued a memo to the newsroom on Friday -- which was published by NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos -- saying that NPR doesn't intend to bar the use of the word but that staffers should be mindful of the company's policy on potentially offensive language.
The policy reads as follows: "As a responsible broadcaster, NPR has always set a high bar on use of language that may be offensive to our audience. Use of such language on the air has been strictly limited to situations where it is absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told."
Memmott notes that when the network needs to report on the Redskins, it can refer to the team as "Washington" or "the team."
Again, we are not prohibiting the use of the full team name. At times, it will have to be used – particularly when reporting about the controversy. At times, it may sound awkward to refer to the club as "Washington" or "the team." Clarity in our reporting is vital. In some cases, achieving that clarity will require using the team's name (for instance, to distinguish the club from Washington's other sports teams). Guests will surely use the word Redskins during interviews.
The team's name has increasingly come under scrutiny from Native American groups, lawmakers, media members and other observers, who say the name is offensive and racist toward the Native American community. Defenders of the name, including Snyder, say it honors Native Americans as well as the team's history.
Multiple print and television media members and publications have decided not to use the name.
It was reported late last month that the Federal Communications Commission will consider sanctioning broadcasters for using Redskins on the air. The FCC has also received petitions against a radio station owned by the Redskins that uses the name.
Meanwhile, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) announced that she will introduce legislation aimed at eliminating the NFL's tax-exempt status because of the league's continued inaction against the Redskins name. In addition, The Native American coalition Change the Mascot has sent a letter to 31 NFL owners urging them to take action that could lead to the Redskins name being changed.
In June, The United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Redskins.
A letter signed by 50 U.S. senators and endorsed by majority leader Harry Reid urged NFL leadership to press for a name change.
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said he will never change the name.
- Chris Johnson