Articles about "Grammar and style"


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NPR will use term ‘Obamacare’ less

Maynard Institute | Associated Press
NPR standards editor Stuart Seidel asked reporters and editors to “avoid overusing ‘Obamacare’” after the Maynard Institute’s Richard Prince wrote him saying “the term can no longer be defended as neutral.”

Seidel’s memo, Prince writes, says:

“‘Obamacare’ seems to be straddling somewhere between being a politically-charged term and an accepted part of the vernacular.

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Are we heading for a post-apostrophe society?

Time | Slate | The New Republic

The apostrophe — the punctuation mark, not the parenthetical form of speech directed at one person — will never die as long as copy editors and auto-correct programs value it, Katy Steinmetz argues. (Happy National Punctuation Day, Katy!) Losing the punctuation mark forever would require a “revolution in thought and relaxation among gatekeepers of the written word,” she writes.

Copyeditors are still changing donut to doughnut, after all. “Language is constantly changing, but predicting what will happen next is notoriously challenging,” [Oxford University's U.S. dictionary honcho Katherine] Martin says. “It is difficult to believe that copyeditors are going to stop distinguishing between its and it’s in the near future.”

But at this point in publishing history, throwing one’s lot in with gatekeepers seems as sound as larding your pension with media-company stocks.… Read more

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Pfc. Bradley Manning

AP, New York Times, NPR update style on Chelsea Manning

“The Associated Press will henceforth use Pvt. Chelsea E. Manning and female pronouns for the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, in accordance with her wishes to live as a woman,” the news cooperative said in an advisory to editors and subscribers Monday evening.

The AP had previously said it wanted more information about the statement Manning released last week. More detail in this blog post — in which the former Bradley Manning Support Network says it will rename itself the Private Manning Support Network — and an interview with Manning attorney David E. Coombs allayed whatever concerns AP had.

In that interview, Coombs told AP Manning “decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing because the prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment.” Manning “wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate,” Coombs said.… Read more

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Journalists declare war…on ellipses

Slate

The job description of the ellipsis has changed, Matthew J.X. Malady writes. His emails, his text messages…full of three-point shots. Clay Shirky hypothesizes to him that “people are trying to use alphabets like we’re talking, and it’s … hard. So we reach for the ellipsis.”

Awl Editor Choire Sicha tells Malady he’s defeated his own overuse of ellipses, retraining himself to “send emails in complete sentences, with proper punctuation, like an adult person.”

At The Washington Post, using fewer ellipses is now an institutional imperative, judging by a July 17 memo from Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz and Multiplatform Editor Jesse Lewis. “We’ve noticed an overuse of the ellipsis recently,” they write.… Read more

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San Francisco Chronicle changes style on ‘illegal immigrant’

The San Francisco Chronicle changed its style on “illegal immigrant” Monday. It’s the latest of several publications to reconsider the term.

The newspaper’s new style will “essentially match” the Associated Press’ style on the term, David Steinberg, copy desk chief at the Chronicle, said in an email to Poynter.

Chronicle journalists are now advised not to refer to a person as “illegal” or as an “alien;” instead, “illegal” should only be used in describing the means by which they entered the country, and only with proper attribution.… Read more

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Los Angeles Times, too, moves away from ‘illegal immigrant’

Los Angeles Times

Articles in the Los Angeles Times “will no longer refer to individuals as ‘illegal immigrants’ or ‘undocumented immigrants,’ but instead will describe a person’s circumstances,” Times reader representative Deirdre Edgar writes.

New guidance to the newsroom says to “be specific whenever possible in describing an individual’s status”:

  • “Authorities said he crossed the border illegally.”
  • “She entered the country to attend college but overstayed her student visa.”
  • “He was brought here as a child by his parents, who entered the U.S. without a visa.”

The Times said in early April it would reconsider use of the term, after the Associated Press changed style on it.… Read more

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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: … Read more

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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 the ways in which social media is strengthening the English language. A South by Southwest panel, “Slap My Words Up: Language in the Digital World,” addressed this topic on Sunday. Panelists were Fast Company’s Neal Ungerleider, McKinney’s Gail Marie; Digitaria’s Kristina Eastham; and Sean Carton, director for digital communication commerce and culture at the University of Baltimore.

Here are five ways that social media is having a positive effect on writing and the English language.

Increases awareness of mistakes, helps prevent them

Instead of looking at social media sites as platforms for making mistakes, the panelists said, look at them as platforms for catching mistakes.… Read more

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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.… Read more

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