Update: Associated Press Bans Phrase ‘Polish Concentration Camps’

As we previously reported, many in the Polish community have rallied against use of the phrases “Polish concentration camps” and “Polish death camps” in the media, arguing that those terms imply that the killing was carried out by the Polish, not by Nazi Germany. The Associated Press recently updated its widely-used stylebook, instructing journalists to not use the terms. The following is a translation of an article on the change from the Polish American publication Nowy Dziennik:

A new entry in the AP Stylebook clearly instructs AP journalists not to use the phrase “Polish death camps,” which “confuse the location and the perpetrators,” according to David Minthorn, deputy standards editor and AP Stylebook co-editor. Instead, the Stylebook recommends using phrases such as “death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland.”

By introducing an entry regarding the proper naming of concentration camps, the Associated Press has joined The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and Yahoo! Inc., which have all banned the use of the phrases.

The changes introduced in the internal AP manual could be a major development in the battle against the phrase “Polish concentration camps,” as more than 1,700 newspapers and 5,000 television and radio broadcasters subscribe to the Associated Press.

The Polish-American community has been fighting for a long time against the use of the phrase in the mainstream American media. Over 300,000 people from the U.S., Poland and other countries have signed a petition on the website of the New York-based Kosciuszko Foundation.

The president of the Kosciuszko Foundation, Alex Storozynski, said in a statement sent out to the media that signatures will be collected until the entire media stops using the phrase.

“This is yet another success, which is the result of the great effort undertaken by many people,” said Stefan Komar, an activist who has for years fought the use of “Polish concentration camps.”

As for the battle with the AP, Komar attributes the success to Jan Niechwiadowicz of the Polish Media Issues Group in England and Roman Zawadzki of the Polish American Congress in Long Island Polish American Defense Committee in Los Angeles. Almost every day, the two would contact various publications around the world demanding correction of the phrase. They used to frequently contact AP.

“The success can also be attributed to the Kosciuszko Foundation and demonstrations held in front of News Corp headquarters,” Komar said.

“I think we still have a long way to go,” said Komar. “Reuters, BBC and Murdoch’s entire empire haven’t introduced the appropriate entries into their stylebooks. Meanwhile, Reuters was responsible for hundreds of these types of mistakes when they covered the story of [convicted death camp guard John] Demjanjuk. The same goes for Murdoch.”

Earlier: Articles from 2010-11 on the use of “Polish concentration camps” in the media.

[Editor’s note: Roman Zawadzki’s organizational affiliation has been corrected above. Voices of NY regrets the error.]

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