The Associated Press has updated its stylebook to advise against using the phrase “Polish death camps,” the Kosciuszko Foundation’s president Alex Storozynski announced in a Feb. 15 e-mail. The foundation is an 87-year-old group “dedicated to promoting educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland and to increasing American understanding of Polish culture and history.”
The new AP entry reads:
“concentration camps For World War II camps in countries occupied by Nazi Germany, do not use phrases like Polish death camps that confuse the location and the perpetrators. Use instead, for example, death camps in Nazi-occupied Poland.”
The Kosciuszko Foundation called it a “major development” and thanked the “more than 300,000 people that have signed the Kosciuszko Foundation Petition on German Concentration Camps.”
We wrote in March 2011 when the New York Times updated its stylebook to stop using the phrase “Polish death camps.” After the foundation started its petition in Oct. 2010, the Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle also updated their stylebooks concerning concentration camps. Storozynski told iMediaEthics by e-mail that Yahoo updated its stylebook entry in August 2011 “thanks to the petition and pressure from the Piast Institute.” Read more about that here.
In March, Storozynski told us that the group had “approached the AP as well, but so far they refuse to change their stylebook.” At the time, more than 225,000 people signed the petition. We asked Storozynski what changed between then and now. He wrote: “With more than 300,000 signatures on the petition http://www.thekf.org/events/news/petition/ … and diligent members of the Polish community writing to the AP, they finally seemed to agree that it was time for a change.”
We asked Storozynski what the foundation’s petition would be. He told us the group will continue its petition “until all media outlets stop using this erroneous phrase.” He listed TIME, The Washington Post, New York Post and Fox News as examples of media outlets that have “used phrases such as Polish death camp or Polish concentration camp within the past year or so.”
We have written to the Associated Press asking what had occurred in the past year to prompt the change. We will update with any response.
UPDATE: 2/16/2012 9:34 AM EST: Added in about the AP’s tweets on the change.