Not only does The Associated Press update basic rules of grammar and punctuation but it also assists journalists in remaining inclusive in their reporting. These updates reflect the inevitable changes of human society.
Claire Regan’s “AP Style Smackdown” explained how the style guide better helps journalists to keep up with the three rules Regan shared in her panel: accuracy, consistency and sensitivity.
Why follow AP Style?
Many journalists already follow AP style, but many forget why it’s necessary. Regan shared her reasons as to why AP is by far the best style.
“There are fads in language, just like style and fashion, they come and go in and out of use,” Regan said.
She describes the book as our journalistic Bible, a code of ethics. Living in the digital age, the AP Style keeps up with the times. It includes a section on social media that benefits reporters by providing a guide for ever-changing digital dialect.
“Texting has changed our habits a lot. So that’s why the AP style book is so useful,” Regan said.
The newest edition of AP Style is the 56th edition, covering the years 2022-2024. As stated on the cover, the new edition includes “more than 300 new and revised entries.”
Conversational Style vs. AP Style
Broadcast journalism differs from print as it tends to be more casual, with information spoken in a more informal tone.
“Readability and reader attention spans are very low. So you want to get the message, of course, quickly, with the least amount of distractions,” said Regan. “It’s different to the situation.”
When covering the facts of any complex issue, the way you phrase a story is crucial whether it covers race, gender, age, religion, or any other personal description. By following AP Style’s updated rule book, journalists can avoid conflicts such as political correctness changes.
Regan used the example of gender-neutral language such as firefighter and police officer instead of fireman and policeman. She emphasized how this simple change in wording can help improve the credibility of the reporter and publication.
Some of the new changes to AP Style include: pronouns, disabilities, race-related coverage, sexual orientation, and Coronavirus.
When in doubt, AP Style covers everything. Journalists need only to look up a specific section if they can’t find it.
The Three Rules to AP Style
AP style professionals make changes according to proper and thorough research.
“Our discussions on style and language consider many points, including the need to be inclusive and respectful in our storytelling and the evolution of language,” said John Daniszewski, Vice President and Editor at Large for Standards at The Associated Press, when AP changed the letter “b” to capital in Black and the “i” in Indigenous. When it comes to covering race, Daniszewski emphasizes the three rules mentioned by Claire in the beginning of her presentation, consideration (sensitivity), preciseness(accuracy), and an open discussion with the people behind the diverse backgrounds (consistency).
Any new changes made to the style book will be included at the beginning of the book.
No hardcopy, no problem. AP style updates its Stylebook Online immediately and the editors update the public on changes with announcements for each new publication.