November 12, 2012

The Associated Press announced today that it has created a Spanish version of the Stylebook aimed at journalists in the U.S. and abroad. The idea came about after journalists from the AP’s Mexico City bureau realized they needed a Stylebook that addressed the complexities and evolution of the Spanish language.

“They understand the role that our English Stylebook plays for our English-speaking journalists and they’ve been advocating for years that we needed one for our Spanish-speaking journalists,” AP Stylebook Product Manager Colleen Newvine said by phone.

The Spanish Stylebook, or Manual de Estilo, started out as an internal tool in the Mexico City bureau but grew into something more after the AP realized there was an audience for it. The AP has gotten several requests for a Spanish Stylebook, Newvine said, and has been looking to expand its business in Latin America. The Stylebook “really pointed to an opportunity for us to grow,” she said.

The Stylebook, which will only be available online, will include some translations of entries from the English version of the Stylebook. The majority of entries, however, were created specifically for Spanish-speaking writers and editors.

Alejandro Manrique — AP deputy editor for Latin America and director of the AP Spanish Service — said he wanted the Stylebook to apply to journalists in Spanish-speaking countries, as well as in the U.S. This makes sense; the latest U.S. census figures show that as of April 1, 2010, people of Hispanic origin constituted 16.3 percent of the U.S. population, making it the largest race or ethnic minority in the country.

“We are in an increasingly more globalized media environment and we thought it was a good idea to have a Stylebook that compiles a universal use of Spanish words,” Manrique said by phone.

Newvine said Manrique and others from the AP’s Mexico City bureau worked with bureau chiefs from multiple countries to compile the Stylebook. AP journalists from Mexico City, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, Puerto Rico and the U.S. helped out.

The AP journalists tried to take non-Spanish speaking journalists into account by including audio entries that they can play to make sure they’re pronouncing words and phrases correctly. They also included some Spanglish terms, or “estadounidismos,” as the Stylebook calls them.

“We don’t recommend using of all of the Spanglish words because we consider them not appropriate,” Manrique said. “But we do have many that [have become] part of the daily use of the Spanish language.”

“Tuit” — Spanglish for “tweet” — is one of the acceptable words. Words like “carpeta” — Spanglish for “carpet” — are “inappropriate,” Manrique said, because they have different meanings in formal Spanish. (Carpeta actually means “folder” in Spanish.)

The Spanish Stylebook doesn’t include these inappropriate terms. “We are debating whether to include those in the next edition,” Manrique said.

Similar to the English AP Stylebook, the Spanish version has Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as an “Ask the Editor” feature where users can pose questions to the Stylebook editors.

Starting next Monday, Nov. 19, the Spanish Stylebook will be available to existing customers of AP’s Spanish services. In early 2013, the Stylebook will be available to anyone who wants to pay for it. A release about the Stylebook explains the cost: “Prices start at $26 for one user’s yearlong subscription and $210 for a one-year subscription for a 10-user site license. AP is offering introductory rates at about one-third off regular prices.”

The AP will celebrate the Stylebook launch during a panel event at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism next Monday. Panelists will include NPR Ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos and Isaac Lee, president of news for Univision Communications.

The Associated Press is open to the idea of creating other versions of the Stylebook, but acknowledged that it’d be a lot of work. Recently, Newvine has gotten a few requests for a Mandarin version.

”I think it’s a fantastic idea, but as intimidated as I was to move into a new language, I think we’ll wait and see how this one plays out,” she said. “We’re taking baby steps.”

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Mallary Jean Tenore

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