The Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.’s beloved football team.


Change the name? The public network wants to stay neutral on the matter, but says that because of its policy on “potentially offensive language,” it will limits its use of the name.

Why? Mark Memmott, NPR’s standards editor, sent out a guidance to the newsroom Friday, saying: “NPR has always set a high bar on use of language that may be offensive to our audience. Use of such language on the air [and online] has been strictly limited to situations where it is absolutely integral to the meaning and spirit of the story being told.”

Shame Spiral rating: SMH. This is significant in that it’s the closest any major national news organization has come to banning the name, according to NPR. (The Washington Post editorial board stopped using the name, but not the newsroom.) In his memo, Memmott instructs the newsroom on how to minimize use of the name, such as referring to the team simply as “Washington.” But Memmott specifically says there are no plans to prohibit the name from airwaves.  This is a good start and, in practice, will likely lead to at least the near-elimination of the team name from the airwaves.

Illustration by Jandos Rothstein