An Associated Press style change announced at this week’s American Copy Editors Society conference in Las Vegas touched off a firestorm — it’s now alright to use both “over” and “more than” in front of numbers.
The announcement drew gasps from copy editors. On Twitter, other journalists sputtered, tweeting “so wrong” and “nooooo” followed by varying numbers of o’s. Our story on the style switch and a second post on reaction to the change topped Poynter.org’s 10 most popular stories for the week as of Friday afternoon:
1. AP removes distinction between over and more than Tweets on this story drew over 450 clicks and more than…OK, we promised to stop. Suffice to say that many people felt the change was sacrilege. Contrast this to the next most read story…
2. ‘More than my dead body!’ Journalists react to AP’s over/more than change The tweet for this story generated only 117 clicks. Clearly, you don’t care as much about how journalists reacted. But we think that reaction in the headline may have been the best of the lot that rose up in a tweeted chorus of protest. By Friday, many were over it and more than fatigued.
3. NYT corrects: St. Patrick banished snakes, not slaves, from Ireland If he had banished corrections worldwide, many of us would have little to write about. Craig Silverman would need to find another line of work.
4. KOMO staff covers crash that took their own A tragedy for the KOMO-TV staff played out publicly as the station covered the accident and mourned the death of veteran cameraman Bill Strothman and helicopter pilot Gary Pfitzner.
5. Why the press can’t help but speculate about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight It’s in our nature to want to solve a mystery, but how about reporting instead? At least The Guardian was forthright with its March 15 headline: “Flight MH370: What we know — and what’s still speculation.”
6. AP changes style on underway; copy editors react This story is a year old, but proved once again that, for some, no Stylebook revision is forgotten or forgiven.
7. Editor wants your rejected headlines On the topic of headlines, we like that the detritus from the minds of creative, sometimes twisted, headline writers can be preserved for eternity on Jon Fischer’s Tumblr blog. Among the gems: “Can Incontinence Be Treated? Depends.”
8. L.A. Times reporter talks about his story-writing ‘Quakebot’ There sure was a lot of talk about robots this week. Here’s one about Tribune’s news-reading robots, another on The Guardian’s reporter bot and a third on Automated Insights’ storywriting robot software, which will spit out an estimated 1 billion stories by year’s end. What’s to come of all of this? While we ponder, let’s sing together: “Daisy, daisy, give me your answer do…”
9. Time to ditch uniques and page views for engagement in measuring digital audiences Rick Edmond went after unique visitors “and its evil twin, page views” and kicked off a debate of sorts with News Corp’s Raju Narisetti, who came back with his own post on the topic of metrics this week. Of course, when Google learns everything about us, this will all be moot.
10. After journalism’s disruption, a reporter chooses medicine as a career Lastly, we tip our hat to John Biemer, a former AP and Chicago Tribune reporter, who bailed from journalism in the dark days and became a doctor. We absolutely get there are parallels between the two professions like interesting assignments and telling stories about people, John. It’s the autopsies we’re trying to process.