Zach Dyer catalogs these and other changes to the AP Stylebook since 1980 in a nifty interactive timeline. The news collective’s process for changing style is “fairly democratic,” he reports after a conversation with AP Deputy Standards Editor David Minthorn:
For a more controversial term, like “illegal immigrant,” Minthorn said the organization considered feedback from its editors, some of who cover immigration, and took a vote. “It wasn’t unanimous but there was a strong majority,” he observed.
In 2010 my coworker Mallary Tenore wrote about how AP’s Stylebook updates provided continually updated guidance on subjects as diverse as how to pronounce Port-au-Prince and the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Recently the Stylebook’s Twitter account even provided a tutorial on Cobb salads: