For decades, MTV Entertainment Studios has strived to tell compelling stories that resonate with diverse audiences, and shed light on important issues. At the root of those stories, is the language we use - language that has the transformative power to make people feel seen, heard and understood. As society evolves, so does the significance and influence of the words we choose. To align internal teams and external partners around the importance and impact of language, , MTV Entertainment Studios created a dynamic resource called the MTVE Inclusive Language Guide.
The Guide comes on the heels of MTVE’s Culture Orientation, a groundbreaking program that empowers content creators to drive positive impact and shape culture through inclusive storytelling. To further the goals of the program,, MTVE Inclusive Language Guide aims to:
Empower content creators to use inclusive language and avoid harmful language that could sensationalize or perpetuate bias.
Provide comprehensive recommendations across varying communities for using inclusive language across all aspects of MTVE's work, including scripts, marketing materials, social media posts and more.
Support Paramount’s company-wide initiative, Content for Change, which aims to counteract racism and bias across the content produced, the creative supply chain that powers it, and the culture that underpins all aspects of work.
In order to create the MTVE Inclusive Language Guide, MTVE developed a strategy grounded in learning and collaboration.
Non-Profit Expert Collaboration: To ensure accuracy and credibility, the guide was developed in partnership with thirteen leading nonprofits including; ADL, Cape, Color of Change, Define American, GLAAD, NALIP, MPAC Hollywood Bureau, IllumiNative, The Jed Foundation, Museum of Tolerance, RAINN, RespectAbilty and Storyline Partners.
Cross-Functional Stakeholders: To maximize the adoption and use of the guide, critical teams across MTVE and Paramount were engaged early to provide insight into relevant challenges and potential use cases for the Guide, ensuring an end-product tailor made for the target user.
Multi-faceted Distribution: To ensure widespread use at all phases of production, the Guide was distributed across a variety of channels. To kick off distribution, Nina L. Diaz, President of Content and Chief Creative Officer of SHOWTIME/MTV Entertainment Studios shared the resource with all staff, followed by communications from senior leaders across the organization to emphasize its importance Additionally, the Guide was integrated into various touchpoints with staff such as intranet resources, internal communications newsletters, company events and more. Lastly, the Guide was shared with a wide range of third party production partners and is now included as a resource in a variety of toolkits employed at the start of all new productions
Key Features of the guide include:
Inclusive Language Guide Overview: The guide opens up with a comprehensive introduction, detailing the purpose, intended audience, and instructions on how to use it effectively. It also provides details on:
Harmful Language: Misinformation and Stereotypes, and Hateful and Harmful Speech
Intent vs Impact: Harmful jokes, Visuals and Images, “Casual” conversations
The Importance of Context: Library Content, Period Pieces and Reclaiming Language
Comprehensive Recommendations: Following the introduction, the user is offered Language Guides by Community and Topic sections, covering a diverse range of identities and issue areas. Each subsection details: Terms and Definitions Hateful and Harmful Speech and Misinformation and Stereotypes. To humanize the real-world impact of harmful language, users can also read impact statements alongside the misinformation and stereotype.
Look to the Future: To keep up with constantly evolving language, there is a Feedback Form within the guide allowing users to contribute suggestions for future editions. MTVE will also continue to work with nonprofit experts to ensure the guide reflects current best practices.
Our team’s objectives were to promote inclusive language across Paramount, align our internal teams and external partners around a shared understanding of the impact of language, and integrate the guide at every phase of a project.
The results have been promising, with almost 3,000 views of the guide reflecting strong engagement and interest within the organization.
Looking ahead, we will continue to identify new ways to leverage the Guide to promote an informed and inclusive environment at MTVE.