News media change 'Hawaiian' distinction
The "AP Stylebook" says the term should be used to describe ethnicity, not residency
Outside the state, few people know that all Hawaii residents are not Hawaiians. For years, "The Associated Press Stylebook" and libel manual, a guide commonly used by newspapers around the country, said there was no difference.
That has changed.
The AP has informed its member organizations of an update to the stylebook on the use of the term "Hawaiian." From now on, Hawaiians will be used only to describe members of the ethnic group indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. "Hawaii resident" or "islander" describes anyone who lives in the state.
Previously, "Hawaiians" could be used to describe residents of Hawaii.
The stylebook is a collection of rules on the use of language to provide a uniform and understandable presentation of stories run by member news organizations.
"I'm really quite pleased that AP has made that distinction," said Jon Osorio, director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawaii at Manoa.
He said the distinction is important to Hawaiians who feel they have a distinct status in Hawaii because they are indigenous people. He said describing residents as islanders also creates a certain degree of romanticism.
AP Honolulu Bureau Chief Dave Briscoe said, "We've actually been trying to get a change for years."
He said the use of "Hawaiian" becomes an issue whenever a prominent person from Hawaii makes national or international news. He said the bureau has had to change Hawaiian to Hawaii resident in stories originating on the mainland describing teenage golfer Michelle Wie.
Wie is an American of Korean ancestry. She is also a Hawaii resident.
Briscoe said he had difficulty persuading AP to make the change, because the organization bases much of its stylebook on dictionary definitions. According to Webster's New World Dictionary, Hawaiian is a native or inhabitant of Hawaii.