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

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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