AP Stylebook 2012 edition released today features new broadcast chapter

The 2012 edition of the AP Stylebook, which comes out today, features more than 270 updated and new entries. There’s a new broadcast chapter, an expanded social media chapter and several fashion-related updates -- “from A-line to zoot suit,” an AP release says.

The social media chapter, which was added to the Stylebook in 2010, includes new entries for terms such as "direct message," "cloud" and "modified tweet." Social Media Editor Eric Carvin, West Regional Desk Editor Carson Walker, Senior Producer Fergus Bell and News Editor Oskar Garcia contributed to the chapter. (Some journalists criticized the AP last year for its staff guidelines on retweeting, which are included in the social media chapter. The entry says: "Retweets, like tweets, should not be written in a way that looks like you’re expressing a personal opinion on the issues of the day.")

In timing with the book's release, we look back at some of the most-discussed Stylebook changes this past year:

Hopefully: The Stylebook updated its “hopefully” entry last month to say that it's acceptable to use the word to mean "it is hoped," "we hope" and "let us hope." As The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse pointed out, the mixed responses to the update symbolized a larger language debate between prescriptivists and descriptivists; there are those who agreed with the change and those who “cast a cold eye” on people who use "hopefully" in writing.

Racial identification: The update, made in March, says that race is pertinent in stories about crime suspects who have been “sought by the police or missing person cases,” so long as “police or other credible, detailed descriptions” are used. When the suspect is found or apprehended, the update says, the racial reference should be removed. The update renewed attention to questions and debates about the relevance of race in news stories.

Polish death camps: Made in February, this update advises journalists not to use the phrase “Polish death camps” to describe World War II Nazi concentration camps in Poland. The update came on the heels of a campaign to convince news organizations to stop using the phrase, although the AP’s David Minthorn said the change was not the result of a request or a campaign. President Barack Obama was criticized this week for using the phrase during the Presidential Medal of Freedom Ceremony.

Illegitimate child: The Stylebook added the term “illegitimate child” to its online version in February. The new entry advises against using the term and suggests using phrases such as “the child, whose mother was not married” or “whose parents were not married,” instead. The update was made around the same time Julie Drizin, director of the Journalism Center on Children & Families, advised journalists not to use the pejorative phrase.

Illegal immigrant: The Stylebook updated its entry on “illegal immigrant” last November to make it more nuanced. The update says the term should be used to describe anyone who “resides in a country in criminal or civil violation of immigration law.” Additionally, it says that “living in the country without legal permission” is an acceptable variation of “illegal immigrant.” Some journalists have criticized the AP Stylebook for encouraging the use of "illegal immigrant," saying the term is dehumanizing, legally inaccurate and oversimplifies the complexities of immigration.

One of the most talked-about updates in recent years occurred in 2010, when the Stylebook changed the style for “Web site” to “website.” In many ways, Stylebook updates reflect the evolving nature of language.

The Stylebook editors will answer readers’ questions about the 2012 book during a live Twitter chat at 2:30 p.m. ET today, and during a Google Plus hangout on Thursday at 2 p.m. ET.

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website, Poynter.org, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.


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