AP publishes 2012 election style guide

Associated Press
The AP’s guidelines for political reporters during the upcoming presidential election are a welcome guide to maintaining journalistic sangfroid while covering political passions: Not just nuts and bolts stuff (e.g., “press secretary” is “Seldom a formal title and thus lowercase”) but also a roadmap to help journalists avoid cliches like “pressing the flesh” (use “shaking hands” instead) and not wander into linguistic minefields (e.g., don’t use “Democrat Party”).

And this year it recommends using quotes on first reference for the following terms:

  • “fair shot,” “fair share”
  • “money bomb”
  • “Obamacare”
  • “opportunity society”


The reasoning behind the first and last items on this list is sound: “fair shot” and “fair share” are Obama campaign terms, and “opportunity society” will enliven many a Romney stump. You could argue that “money bomb” has entered the vernacular. But now that Mother Jones refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as Obamacare, it’s time to drop the scare quotes. (Full disclosure: I haven’t persuaded my editors on this point!)

Related: Get used to seeing ‘Obamacare’ in news stories

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Egg-Man/681171228 Egg Man

    But wait a minute, Andrew, those are NOT scare quotes around “Obamacare.” re But now that Mother Jones refers to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as Obamacare, it’s time to drop the scare quotes. ” As you know, scare quotes is a term concocted in the 192os by PHDs in a philosophy department in the UK to stand for words or phrases that the author of an academic paper does not agree with or feels a distance from. Putting “Obamacare” in quote marks — I refuse to call them scare quotes since they are not scare quotes — in the beginning was because the term seemed so new and in need of quote marks to make it stand out, but the left or the right. That is NOT a scare quote usage. Please get your terminologoy and nomenclasutre RIGHT, or LEFT, and do a psot one day on the current EPIDeMIC ofr so called scare quotes that is threateneing to undo our once civil scoiety.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 Anonymous
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=749911534 Anonymous

    Does AP issue anything yet about using “scare quotes” as a term name in print, without scare quotes of course? I asked Leanne Italie at AP and no reply yet. Same with Phil Corbett at NYT. what does Poynter say? Does scare quotes need quotes around it or is it okay now without scare quotes?

  • jeff lynch

    Can’t wait until the Bureau Chiefs release their list!