Ed Driscoll

The Mosque that Dare Not Speak Its Name

Back in the old days, the AP Style Guide was once a spiral-bound book that editors and writers kept on their bookshelves and reviewed periodically when they needed to check on the proper spelling or capitalization of a word, or the correct terminology for key stories. But of course, the Internet, (much to John Cougar Mellencamp’s chagrin) changes all that.

Here’s the revised style guide from AP with the latest language their journalists should employ to cover the Ground Zero Mosque — oh wait, I guess they can’t call it that anymore:

Associated Press Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production Tom Kent sent the following note to the staff about covering the New York City mosque story:Aug. 19, 2010


Here is some guidance on covering the NYC mosque story, with assists from Chad Roedemeier in the NYC bureau and Terry Hunt in Washington:

1. We should continue to avoid the phrase “ground zero mosque” or “mosque at ground zero” on all platforms. (We’ve very rarely used this wording, except in slugs, though we sometimes see other news sources using the term.) The site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque is not at ground zero, but two blocks away in a busy commercial area. We should continue to say it’s “near” ground zero, or two blocks away.


In short headlines, some ways to refer to the project include:

_ mosque 2 blocks from WTC site
_ Muslim (or Islamic) center near WTC site
_ mosque near ground zero
_ mosque near WTC site

We can refer to the project as a mosque, or as a proposed Islamic center that includes a mosque.

It may be useful in some stories to note that Muslim prayer services have been held since 2009 in the building that the new project will replace. The proposal is to create a new, larger Islamic community center that would include a mosque, a swimming pool, gym, auditorium and other facilities.

2. Here is a succinct summary of President Obama’s position:

Obama has said he believes Muslims have the right to build an Islamic center in New York as a matter of religious freedom, though he’s also said he won’t take a position on whether they should actually build it.

Curiously though, the developers of the mosque that dare not speak its location referred to it as…the “new muslim center near ground zero” as early as May:

Here’s a second example:

Say, does AP defend other religions as vigorously? If not, why not?

(H/T: Ben Domenech and Joshua Trevino.)

Related: Ace reads Time magazine so you don’t have to; finds them doing their part as well.

Update: As Fausta Wertz notes in the comments below and on her blog, where she included the following photo:

Contrary to what AP would like to believe, The Ground Zero Mosque actually is at Ground Zero. On September 11, 2001, this part of the JetBombs fell on the Burlington Coat Factory building:

This part of the planes that crashed on the World Trade Center buildings actually fell on the Burlington Coat Factory building and damaged it.

In a conversation this morning with Jeff Dunetz, we both discussed whether the building has been checked for human remains that scattered all through the neighborhood, and whether any would be found in a search. I don’t know the answer to that.

Also at Ground Zero was St Nicholas Church, which has been denied permission to rebuild.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Doug Powers is offering the collective power of the Blogosphere in service of one overworked, beleaguered  news agency: “Help AP Writers Find a Substitute Phrase for ‘Ground Zero Mosque.’”