April 12, 2013

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.

In 2010 my coworker Mallary Tenore wrote about how AP’s Stylebook updates provided continually updated guidance on subjects as diverse as how to pronounce Port-au-Prince and the difference between Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Recently the Stylebook’s Twitter account even provided a tutorial on Cobb salads:

Related: AP changes style on ‘underway’: Copy editors react | What data & algorithms teach us about the language news orgs use

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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…
Andrew Beaujon

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