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Archive for the ‘Associated Press’ Category

Leaving the wire behind

In Associated Press on 7 Apr 2016 at 11:23 am
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Dan Shearer at the Republican Club of Green Valley. Courtesy of the club.

This week, each of our newspapers received a memo asking that they send AP release letters in advance of what will be an eventual move away from the wire service. I’m quite sure this was met with angst in some places. Though I think it’s the right move for our community products for the reasons I explained in that memo, I understand there might be trepidation.

That’s why I was glad to receive this email from Dan Shearer, editor of our Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun. He said I could reprint it here, so I’m giving you a slightly edited version. Take it away, Dan:

Wow, (ditching AP is a) big move. Overdue, too.

We did this about three or four years ago. … Within two months, we’d dropped nearly all AP from the news side and cut the wire editor’s hours from 40 to 20. And the paper got better (even with a couple of layoffs that year). Finally, we had a focus (local, local and local).
Here’s what I’d recommend people check in on right away: … Read the rest of this entry »


Taking the ‘I’ out of internet

In Associated Press on 7 Apr 2016 at 11:14 am

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Beginning June 1, AP style calls for an end to uppercase Internet and Web. So, enjoy your stature while you still can, 20th century terms for the digital future.

I don’t know how you feel about these changes, but I guess I’m agnostic, though leaning a bit toward support of the new rule. It makes sense to me. These are much more generic and certainly ubiquitous terms than they used to be. They are not proper nouns any longer, I don’t think, at least not in the common usage.

Most of the digital punditry about these changes suggest that it is about time. The know-it-alls say AP is just old-school and slow to adopt standard usage. I say that is a good thing. I appreciate that the keepers of the style are reflective and not reactive.

And another thing: It has been suggested that capital letters themselves are archaic. They are just too hard to read, apparently. To this, I say, “nay!”

From Susan C. Herring’s really interesting and well-researched column in Wired last year:

The fact is, decapitalizing internet is part of a universal linguistic tendency to reduce the amount of effort required to produce and process commonly-used words. Not only does decapitalization save a click of the shift key, but, as one marketing website put it, “Capital letters are speed bumps for the eyes when reading. They should be eliminated where possible.” …
Read the rest of this entry »

Why consistent style matters

In Associated Press on 3 Oct 2013 at 4:38 pm

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I have a confession to make. I am both an evangelist for the AP Stylebook and a fallen angel. I realize the intrinsic worth of the gold standard and I know I fall short every day. I don’t have a photographic memory for arcane matters of style. Consequently, a day doesn’t go by that I don’t create a new bend in the binding of my AP Stylebook.

I happened upon this YouTube video from the editors of the AP Stylebook and I bowed in appreciation of one of the most stable – yet gently evolving – aspects of life as a journalist. I love that these three look a bit like curmudgeons from the newsrooms or old but also that they acknowledge we live in a changing world. You might not have known AP offered online and mobile editions of the Stylebook. Cool, huh?

But why does it matter? Who really gives a damn if I say a Frisbee is a “disc” or a “disk?” Well, you might be surprised. Consistency is one of those things you know when you see it. And readers are much, much more sophisticated than we sometimes think.

“Consistency is absolutely critical to credibility,” says Stylebook Editor Darrell Christian. “If they can’t trust you to get the style right, they may not trust you to get the story right.” … Read the rest of this entry »

The new stylebooks are here!

In Associated Press on 12 Sep 2013 at 1:32 pm


I just picked up my copy of the 2013 Associated Press Stylebook and I’m glad I did.

It’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t need another one of these things lying around, but recent updates have had some useful stuff about brand-new digital topics.

The 2013 edition includes 90 revised entries, including important changes about illegal immigration and the college sports conferences, which seem to change with the weather. But more important still, for me, is a lot of good information about using social networks. Make that a ton of good information, from how to use Twipho to search social networks for photos to the meaning of abbreviations like BRB.

Perhaps you are wondering why we should cling to an AP product that was first published 60 years ago when most of us don’t even use the Associated Press anyway. The answer is professionalism.

Even if they can’t quite explain why The New York Times is better than the New Bedford Herald, readers know that the Times employs a consistency of language and usage that can only be the product of great deliberation and careful editing. You want to aspire to that standard. One way to do that is to make sure that every time you write “hashtag” in your copy that you do it the same way, one word, as suggested in the industry bible. … Read the rest of this entry »

Taking “illegal” out of immigration

In Associated Press on 4 Apr 2013 at 4:12 pm
This 2007 photo is just one of many in our newspapers that referenced the fight to contain illegal immigrants. Courtesy: Cochise County Attorney's Office

This 2007 photo is just one of many in our newspapers that referenced the fight to contain illegal immigrants. Courtesy: Cochise County Attorney’s Office

This week, the Associated Press changed its entry on “illegal immigration.” It should have happened a long, long time ago, in my opinion.

The crux of the change is that “illegal” is now only to refer to the action, not the people. In other words, there is no such thing as an “illegal.” Here’s a snippet from the AP bulletin to subscribers:

illegal immigration

Entering or residing in a country in violation of civil or criminal law. Except in direct quotes essential to the story, use illegal only to refer to an action, not a person: illegal immigration, but not illegal immigrant. Acceptable variations include living in or entering a country illegally or without legal permission. Except in direct quotations, do not use the terms illegal alien, an illegal, illegals or undocumented.

Do not describe people as violating immigration laws without attribution. …

Previously, the AP allowed the term “illegal immigrant” to apply to people who entered the country illegally.

Using the word “illegal” to refer to a human being has long been a pet peeve of mine. “Anchor baby” is another one of those degrading terms that bugs me every time I see it. They are ethnocentric at the very least and mean-spirited as well. They also strikes me as racist. Have you ever heard a European immigrant referred to as an “illegal?” … Read the rest of this entry »

Writing with style

In Associated Press on 1 Feb 2013 at 9:16 am

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My AP Stylebook is 427 pages long and has thousands of style suggestions. I have been in newspapers long enough to know the basics and, over time, have drummed much of the usual style things into my head. If you are reading this, you are probably similarly schooled in the style.

Which is not to say I don’t make mistakes every day.

I am lucky to have Julie Gerth to lean on. She is our copy editor here at the Review. She reads most of the newspaper and magazine copy before it gets in print and catches dozens of spelling and style errors every week. You have to wonder why I don’t catch some of this stuff before it gets to her.

Anyway, she periodically sends me reminders of style mistakes that reach her. She sent me one such list this week. So here, direct from Julie, are a few style things to correct in your own writing. They are somewhat random but also things that you deal with every week too.

(Oh, and remember to click the “Style Tips” tab above for more of the same.)

  • Cafe – Webster’s first spelling is without an accent, so let’s stop putting on the accent unless the business is particular about it. … Read the rest of this entry »

Covering the boomers

In Associated Press on 7 Jul 2011 at 8:22 pm

We’ve all heard that the Baby Boomers are getting older. This has profound implications for our country – in terms of health care, senior services, employment … even the readership of your newspaper. It’s one of those big issues that feel too big to get your arms around.

Well, our friends at the Associated Press are here to help. From an APME update earlier this week:

The Associated Press and the Associated Press Managing Editors have launched a joint project to look at the silver tsunami – the aging of the baby boomers – and its impact on communities and the services they provide, from health care to accessible housing and shopping.

The first story, Age-Friendly Communities by Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard, (moved Wednesday). Neergaard examines the creative steps that some communities are taking to prepare for the aging of America. A logo has been prepared to accompany the series. … Read the rest of this entry »

AP considers attribution

In Associated Press on 3 Sep 2010 at 8:39 am

Some of you may have seen a note from Mike Oreskes, senior managing editor of the Associated Press, concerning changes to the AP policy when it comes to attributing the information the cooperative uses. Specifically, the nation’s preeminent news wire is looking to better source material it uses to the blog, newspaper, broadcast outlet or other originating organization.

This is a good idea and I’m anxious to see how it works in practice.

For as long as I can remember, the AP has seen itself as a single entity. The work of member papers was essentially the work of the group as a whole. From that perspective, then, there wasn’t any reason for AP’s own writers to say they were cribbing information from some local paper to share with others. I never had a problem with that as it was the same for everyone.

But two truths have emerged:

  • Papers like ours are trying to drive Web traffic; and
  • Credibility has taken a hit as rumor travels the bumpy path through the Internet.

To address those issues, as I understand it, the AP has decided to attribute to other organizations information it hasn’t independently reported and to give credit to whomever broke the story even if the AP advances a story well beyond that breaking news… Read the rest of this entry »

CA, Calif., California

In Associated Press, Uncategorized on 14 May 2010 at 8:20 am

Whoops! Alert reader Matt Hickman points out that this particular directive has been delayed indefinitely. On its Web site, the AP says plans to do away with state name abbreviations have been delayed due to “technical issues” and complaints from members. I have a call into the Stylebook people in New York and hope to get some further clarification. I’ll keep the post up for purposes of discussion. But please know AP will continue to use the abbreviations for the time being. Sorry for the confusion. Clay

Here’s one I knew nothing about, until alert reader and Williston Herald Managing Editor Jacob Brooks brought it to my attention. It seems the AP is about to rock my world.

A few weeks back, the Associated Press announced it was doing away with those state name abbreviations (Calif., Okla., S.D., etc.) that have become like second nature to editors everywhere. The change is to take effect Saturday, May 15.

From the horse’s mouth:

The Associated Press is changing its style on state abbreviations and Canadian cities to create a consistent and universal style for international and domestic use. Starting May 15, the proper style will be to spell out the names of U.S. states in all stories and datelines where a city is followed by a state name. SACRAMENTO, Calif., for example, will become SACRAMENTO, California. We also will drop the practice of including names of Canadian provinces in datelines. We will instead use Canada. VANCOUVER, British Columbia, for example, will become VANCOUVER, Canada… Read the rest of this entry »

Do you use AP as a crutch?

In Associated Press on 7 May 2009 at 9:58 pm

Is the Associated Press a full and worthwhile contributor to your journalism? apDoes it add value for the poor reader under information assault? Does it place the news in context with the wider world?

Or is it just filler?

For most papers with the wire, it serves all those purposes from time to time. If you nodded sheepishly, admitting to yourself if no one else, that you sometimes run long stories with Outernowhereastan datelines just because you have a big hole on Page 8A, I want to congratulate you for your honesty. And I want you to consider that more of a lost opportunity than a mortal sin.

Look, we all have occasion to run a two-column photo over four columns because we have to fill that space somehow. And those of us with the news wire sometimes let a story run long when 10 inches would do just fine. Something has to eat up all that newshole. The trick is to limit those occasions – particularly now that we are all trying to save money… Read the rest of this entry »