Mark Memmott

When we met with everyone last year to talk about how to reduce the number of mistakes we were making, we set a goal to cut in half the number of corrections we were posting each month. The average then was just over 100 a month.

We reached our goal in September. Thank you!

The biggest factor, from what I've observed, has been a doubling down on double-checking our facts. Don't stop doing that.

We are changing the way we spell the capital of Ukraine to Kyiv, from Kiev. This brings us in line with The Associated Press, with the way Ukrainians would spell it in English and with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. It does not change the pronunciation.

While we're dealing with that part of the world, a reminder: Do not say or write "the Ukraine." It is simply "Ukraine."

As we've had to say too often, thank you for getting so many things right as we've covered the latest mass shootings.

Here's one thing to continue keeping in mind:

The man accused of the mass shooting in El Paso is reported to have written what he referred to as a "meh manifesto." We have been referring to it as a "manifesto." This note is just a reminder that as we report about such statements we should continue to carefully consider how we use the word in order to be as precise as possible, but not diminish its meaning with overuse. Many thanks to those who contributed to the discussion about this.

If a report we're doing is embargoed, the DACS line must read as follows, asterisks and all:

***EMBARGOED***

NPR's [insert name of correspondent or NPR desk] has an exclusive.

This story is embargoed until [time ET]. We will post more about it here at that time.

***EMBARGOED***

More about the report should be entered into the Newsflex "notes" field. Here's how to do that:

The R. Kelly and Jeffrey Epstein cases include accusations that they sexually assaulted and exploited minors – girls, in these cases.

On a few occasions recently we've said or written "Customs and Border Patrol." That's a mistake.

Please remember: the agency's name ends with "Protection," not "Patrol."

It's Customs and Border Protection.

True, there is a United States Border Patrol within the agency. The Border Patrol has agents and officers.

But, again, there is no agency called "Customs and Border Patrol."

It's highly likely there will be things happening on and around the National Mall tomorrow that lead to videos, tweets, photos and other social media reports that go viral. Here are some reminders from an earlier post:

- We don't necessarily have to report about them until we have more to say than that they exist.

- One video [tweet, etc.] may not tell a complete story.

We agree with The Associated Press on this:

"Do not refer to the child of unmarried parents as illegitimate. If it is pertinent to the story at all, use an expression such as whose parents were not married." 

In 2011, when he was NPR's public editor, Edward Schumacher-Matos wrote that "illegitimate" and other "pejorative birth labels attached to children were never fair."

With the 2020 campaign underway, here are some reminders from the Ethics Handbook about publicly expressing political opinions.

The section on impartiality has the guidance and it applies to NPR employees inside and outside the newsroom (more on that below). Some of the highlights:

- "We don't put political bumper stickers on our cars."

- "We don't sign political petitions."

- "We don't donate money to candidates."

If you need to refer to the proposed citizenship question for the 2020 census, contact Hansi Lo Wang or Luis Clemens before doing so. One of them should review what you plan to say or write because the history of such questions is complicated.

They will tell you, for example, that:

As Newscast and Colorado Public Radio have reported, the 16-year-old suspect in the STEM school shooting is being charged as an adult – as is the 18-year-old suspect.

As we've covered the new abortion law in Georgia and legislation in Alabama, we've followed long-standing guidance very well. Thank you to all involved.

For those new to the subject, that guidance about abortion and related topics is collected in our Intranet "radio" style guide. We'll attach it below.

As we report on measles outbreaks and outbreaks related to other vaccine-preventable diseases, it's important to stick to the science — and to use neutral language in describing peoples' positions.

There is evidence in the Mueller report that the president asked some aides to lie about his actions.

When reporting about this, frame it as "evidence," not proof, that the aides were "asked to lie." And attribute the evidence to Mueller's investigation.

We are not going to repeat on the air this quote attributed to President Trump in the Mueller report:

"I'm fucked."

When talking about it, we can clean up the quote by turning it into "I'm F-ed." But we will also need to make clear to listeners that he used the actual word.

Meanwhile, less is more. "I'm F-ed" and discussions of that quote do not need to be part of all our Mueller-related reports.

Note: online we write "I'm f***ed."

Like an Election Day, this is another time to remind everyone about the social media rules of the road when there's a big story about to break.

Borrowing from our post from last November, here is guidance on how to (and not to) respond to news regarding the redacted Mueller report:

-- You will be tempted to tweet, post to Facebook and otherwise express yourself on social media. There's probably a lot you'd like to say ...

As Thursday's release of a redacted version of the special counsel's report draws near and as we report about it afterward, there's a phrase we do not need to say, write or put in headlines:

"It's Mueller Time."

Others have used that supposedly funny twist on an old ad slogan many times. It's played out. We've avoided it and should continue to do so.

Be warned. It's April Fools' Day. We have to be on guard against those who would like us to believe their fake news. View things even more skeptically than usual.

Also, if you think you have a funny idea for an April Fools' story, you're too late. If we do one, we only do one, and if it exists it's already been approved. Sorry, Korva.

The following was first posted on Oct. 30, 2018:

As we've said before, we should not use gun- or violence-related clichés in our reports — no matter the subject and especially not when another mass shooting is in the news.

Earlier this year, we posted a short list of such phrases:

Our dictionary defines the word "manifesto" as "a public declaration of motives and intentions, as by a political party or by an avant-garde movement." The statement reportedly made by the suspect in New Zealand did not come from a political party and it seems euphemistic to refer to him as being part of an avant-garde movement. The word "manifesto" also may elevate such a statement, in the eyes of those who might want to copy this person's actions, to something more than it might really have been.

Thank you, everyone, for your work on covering the mass shooting in New Zealand.

As we continue to cover the news:

Make sure your clocks spring forward an hour this weekend, and make sure you say or write that most of the U.S. is switching to "daylight saving time," not "daylight savingS."

If you do add that second "s," you will be robocalled at 2 a.m. Sunday and at other annoying hours until April 1. Fair warning: The message that Korva has recorded is not in her usual "everything's cool" tone of voice.

Also remember this (from the National Institute of Standards and Technology):

In the statement he's expected to deliver this morning, Michael Cohen twice uses the word "shithole." It is possible that word, and others that are offensive, will also come up during the question-and-answer portion of his testimony.

We've gotten it wrong in the past, so with Venezuela and Colombia in the news here's a reminder.

Colombia – the country, that is – is not spelled with a "u." Save the "u" for when you're writing about the District of Columbia or the company that makes sportswear.

Make sure the country is spelled correctly in scripts, tweets, Facebook posts, Web stories and headlines. And don't forget DACS. Remember, your words might end up on car dashboards and the ticker that runs around this building.

As with previous notes about offensive language, what follows focuses on radio reports.

But it's worth noting that we also do not put f-bombs, s-bombs, slurs and other offensive language on digital platforms without senior editors' approval.

These are mandatary steps:

1. Reporter/editor/producer (from desks and shows): As soon as you think there's even a chance you may need to include such language in a radio piece, put an ALL CAPS message in the "Notes" field of your story's Newsflex collection.

It should say "THIS STORY CONTAINS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE."

There were several Web summaries posted over the weekend that flatly said Jamal Khashoggi was murdered. We should not be doing that in any stories, online or on air. NPR agrees with the AP that:

"Homicide is a legal term for slaying or killing.

"Murder is malicious, premeditated homicide. ...

"A homicide should not be described as murder unless a person has been convicted of that charge."

For those who have been with NPR on other election days, most of this guidance should be familiar. As we've said before:

-- On Election Day and Night, you will be tempted to tweet, post to Facebook and otherwise express yourself on social media. There's probably a lot you'd like to say about the campaign and the candidates.

In recent weeks, there's been discussion in the newsroom about best practices when it comes to seeking comment from people or institutions that are in the news (for "good" and "bad" reasons).

What follows doesn't cover every potential situation. But when we know we need to ask for comment from someone or some organization, we must:

- Give them a reasonable amount of time to get back to us. What's reasonable? Discuss that with senior editors or DMEs.

The list below is not a complete record of names we've misspelled in one way or another on more than one occasion. And it's not being shared because we're more worried about these names than about others.

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