Mark Memmott

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

As the NPR Ethics Handbook states, the Standards & Practices editor is "charged with cultivating an ethical culture throughout our news operation. This means he or she coordinates regular training and discussion on how we apply our principles and monitors our decision-making practices to ensure we're living up to our standards."

Before becoming Standards & Practices editor, Memmott was one of the hosts of NPR's "The Two-Way" news blog, which he helped to launch when he came to NPR in 2009. It focuses on breaking news, analysis, and the most compelling stories being reported by NPR News and other news media.

Prior to joining NPR, Memmott worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor at USA Today. He focused on a range of coverage from politics, foreign affairs, economics, and the media. He reported from places across the United States and the world, including half a dozen trips to Afghanistan in 2002-2003.

During his time at USA Today, Memmott, helped launch and lead three USAToday.com news blogs: "On Deadline," "The Oval" and "On Politics," the site's 2008 presidential campaign blog.

Editor's note: The headline on this post tips our hand. But just to be clear, we're discussing language that some readers don't want to hear or read, even when it's bleeped or not spelled out.

This question came up in the newsroom: Should an NPR journalist say during a podcast that someone's an a****** if many people would agree that person is an a******?

The question wasn't about a real person. It was about someone who would bet against his favorite team or would bet that his lover would say "no" to a marriage proposal.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

It's Independence Day. Let's take a break from parades, patriotic songs and pyrotechnics to think about the Declaration of Independence, which was adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776.

If you think the English language is going to hell in a handbag, you won't be happy as a clown after you're done reading this post.

On Saturday, we asked folks to send us examples of the "eggcorns" they love or hate. An eggcorn, as we reported and as Merriam-Webster puts it, is "a word or phrase that sounds like and is mistakenly used in a seemingly logical or plausible way for another word or phrase."

Please pause if you're about to tell us our headline should say "spread like wildfire."

We intentionally slipped an eggcorn into that line — something we couldn't have done a week ago because, frankly, we'd never heard of eggcorns.

But thanks to Merriam-Webster, which included eggcorn among the more than 1,700 words added to its dictionary this past week, we learned that it is:

As NPR and other news outlets report about the hundreds of people killed this month when the ship they were on went down off the Libyan coast, the stories are referring to those who died as "migrants."

As NPR reports about the crash of a Germanwings passenger jet and the deaths of all 150 people on board, one of the words editors are weighing carefully is "suicide."

Investigators have said they believe co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately flew the plane into a mountain in the French Alps.

Eight months after a notorious group of fighters in Iraq and Syria became regular characters in the news, NPR still begins most of its reports with words such as these:

-- "Self-declared Islamic State."

-- "Self-proclaimed Islamic State."

-- "The group that calls itself the Islamic State."

Wednesday's attack at the Paris office of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo is thought to have been the work of killers who believe cartoons can be so offensive that they justified the murder of 12 people.

News organizations and people around the world obviously believe the opposite — that no one deserves to die just because he's rude, crude or otherwise obnoxious. Free speech includes the right to be offensive.

You're ready to check out at the supermarket. There are only eight items in your cart, so you look for the express lane.

The sign above says "10 items or less."

Do you:

-- Head for the register without a second thought?

-- Rue the decline of the English language because you were taught that the sign should say "10 items or fewer?"

The Two-Way is just shy of its fifth anniversary, on May 13.

This blogger has written just over 9,700 posts for NPR — almost 9,500 of them for The Two-Way.

It seems like a good time to move on.

Next week, I'll be on vacation. When I return to work May 5, I'll be taking on the duties of "standards and practices" editor at NPR and no longer blogging for The Two-Way.

According to our ethics handbook:

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