The Los Angeles Times on Friday published a front page story that profiled a young architecture graduate student from UCLA that’s unsure about her future because she’s undocumented. The large photo of a smiling Maria Gomez wearing her cap and gown on the front page of the Times combined with a beautifully written story humanized her and never referred to her as an “illegal immigrant.”

But for those reading the story on LATimes.com it was a different experience. The story’s subhead identified Gomez as an “illegal immigrant.”

latimes-dreamers.pngBelow is the first sentence LATimes.com readers will read after the headline:

“Maria Gomez, a UCLA graduate with a master’s in architecture, grew up believing in the American Dream while living in its shadows as an illegal immigrant.”

The print edition was much different:

“Hard work, academic success - but clouded by fear and a secret.”

A strange move considering the writer of the story never referred to Gomez or students as “illegal immigrants.” The story written by staff writer Christopher Goffard used the word illegal (without quotes) only once in his story when he referred to “the talk-radio drumbeat about illegal immigrants stealing jobs.”

A video produced by the LA Times accompanying the story also avoided the term “illegal.”

“The LA Times’ video treatment of undocumented immigrants’ stories was very moving. It’s always more powerful to hear people tell their own stories, but notice none of the people interviewed identified as ‘illegal immigrants,’” said Mónica Novoa, Drop the I-Word Campaign Coordinator. (Drop the I-Word is a project from Colorlines.com and the Applied Research.)

“The LA Times already uses other terms interchangeably, but why not completely leave behind this term that is racially charged, dehumanizing and legally inaccurate? It’s time for them to drop the i-word.”

Read this online at http://colorlines.com/archives/2012/06/dreamer_makes_the_front_page_of_la_times_print_edition.html


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