Articles about "Grammar and style"

Timeline shows changes to AP style

Journalism in the Americas
"Ms." arrived in 1980. "Illegal immigrant" entered in 2004 (and left this year). The hyphen in "e-mail" left the building in March 2011.

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.
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AP changes style on ‘underway’: Copy editors react

Two days after changing its style on the term "illegal immigrant," the Associated Press issued a Stylebook update that's significant but in a much quieter way:
underway One word in all uses.
OK, it's a big deal mostly to copy editors, many of whom have spent a good part of their professional lives jamming a space into "underway."

Here's the old listing:
under way Two words in virtually all uses: The project is under way. The naval maneuvers are under way. One word only when used as an adjective before a noun in a nautical sense: an underway flotilla.
I surveyed a few copy-editing icons on whether the AP switch would occasion one at their organizations: (more...)

5 ways that social media benefits writing and language

It’s easy to assume that new forms of technology have dumbed down the English language. Text messaging has reduced phrases to letters (CU L8r) and tweets have so many abbreviations and hashtags they’re barely legible.

Less obvious, though, are … Read more


AP stylebook adds entry on mental illness

AP Stylebook | NAB
The Associated Press has introduced guidance on how to use information about mental illness in coverage. "Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced," the new Stylebook entry begins.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 20 children and 7 adults dead, there was much speculation about the mental health of shooter Adam Lanza.

By email, AP spokesperson Paul Colford acknowledged that shooting was a factor.

"Newtown was certainly among the reasons we considered this carefully, as well as the run of other mass shootings where the state of the shooter was an issue. Editors heard from and sounded out mental health experts and welcomed their input," he said. (more...)

AP issues style guide for papal succession

Associated Press
The Associated Press has issued a helpful style guide for what promises to be an eventful March in the Roman Catholic Church. For example: Mass is "celebrated, not said." The word "pontiff" is "not a formal title and always spelled lowercase."

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Benedict will not revert to his birth name in retirement. Instead call him "Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI," "Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus" or "former Pope Benedict XVI" or "Benedict XVI, the former pope."

Some entries come from the AP Stylebook; others "were suggested by AP’s religion writers in Rome and New York and based on decades of AP coverage of the Roman Catholic Church and papal successions," the guide says.

Previously: Pope’s Twitter account on hold, not shutting down | How Vatican blogger Rocco Palmo is getting ready to cover the conclave for the next Pope | Pope Benedict XVI resigns: What you need to know

ProPublica releases style guide for news apps

News applications editor Scott Klein has written a "ProPublica News Apps Style Guide" that codifies "the typographic and technical best practices" its developers follow.

Much like the AP Stylebook, the News Apps Style Guide helps journalists resolve uncertainty and avoid common mistakes by providing guidance on the most important or often misunderstood points.

Also like the AP Stylebook, the News Apps Style Guide contains an alphabetical list of subjects -- from Accuracy to Updates (no "z-" words yet) -- with a brief discussion and guidance for each.

Which browsers should your news app be sure to work in? "The current and prior major release of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari on a rolling basis" as well as "the built-in browsers in the latest revision of the iOS and Android [SDK]," and "if earlier releases represent more than 2.5% of our audience, continue to support them." (more...)

Your quick Election Day (note the uppercase) styleguide

The Associated Press released its Election Day styleguide in August, but honestly, who was paying attention then? (OK, we were. But you weren't.) Here are the most common phrases to get right.

  • Democrat, Democratic Party
  • Republican, Republican Party
  • House and Senate
  • tea party
  • conservative, liberal
  • congressman, congresswoman (preferred: Sen. or Rep., uppercase & abbreviated)
  • Election Day, election night
  • Congress, congressional

Jose Antonio Vargas ‘disappointed’ NYT not budging on ‘illegal immigrant’

The Atlantic Wire | The New York Times
Jose Antonio Vargas will continue trying to persuade The New York Times to stop using the term "illegal immigrant," he tells The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson, even though New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote Tuesday that she supports her employer's decision to stick with the term. Sullivan and Vargas met to discuss the issue after he raised it at the Online News Association convention.

Her job, Sullivan notes, does not grant her the ability to set Times style. But "illegal immigrant," she writes, strikes her as fair:
It is clear and accurate; it gets its job done in two words that are easily understood. The same cannot be said of the most frequently suggested alternatives – “unauthorized,” “immigrants without legal status,” “undocumented.” Undocumented, as the immigration reporter Julia Preston noted in an interview with me, has “a new currency” because of a federal policy change involving immigrants who came here as children 15 and under, so the word may be useful in that context.
The Times won't use the terms "illegals" or "illegal aliens," Sullivan says. Vargas' response: (more...)

The New York Times explains why it still uses ‘illegal immigrant’

Time MagazineABC NewsPoliticoPoynter
Jose Antonio Vargas is asking news organizations to stop using the term “illegal immigrant,” saying it’s inhumane and inaccurate.

During his keynote speech at the Online News Association conference on Friday, Vargas said his first two targets will be The New York Times and the Associated Press. Vargas told Politico he has spoken with New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan about the issue and plans to talk with the Associated Press’ standards editors about it.

In an email interview, Sullivan said she’s open to hearing Vargas’ thoughts and has been familiarizing herself with the Times' reasoning for using the term "illegal immigrant." (more...)

AP Stylebook updates entry on racial IDs in news stories

On Tuesday, the AP Stylebook updated its entry on when journalists should publish information about a person’s race.

The update says that race is pertinent in stories about crime suspects who have been “sought by the police or missing person … Read more