November 28, 2012

The AP Stylebook Is Here to Stay


The AP Stylebook has long been hailed as the “Bible” for journalists. Newspaper reporters, magazine editors and even PR pros (including the BIGfish team) have relied on the famous style guide for decades to resolve questions on grammar, punctuation, abbreviations and more. Updated regularly since its initial publication in 1953, the AP Stylebook has become a must-have reference for virtually anyone who writes professionally.

Of course, not everyone abides by the AP Stylebook. Urban Dictionary describes it as “the sacred text of journalists and journalism students that is dogmatically followed regardless of whether the rule is outdated or makes the writing worse.” A bit harsh? Perhaps, but the definition does bring to mind some recent criticisms of the renowned style guide.
On Monday, the Associated Press announced several changes to its style guide, including an updated entry for “phobia.” The AP is now discouraging the use of terms like “homophobia” and “Islamophobia,” with editors saying it amounts to a diagnosis of mental illness. However, not everyone agrees with the editors. George Weinberg, the psychologist who coined the term “homophobia” in 1972, commented: “We have no other word for what we’re talking about, and this one is well established. We use ‘freelance’ for writers who don’t throw lances anymore and who want to get paid for their work. … It seems curious that this word is getting such scrutiny while words like triskaidekaphobia (the fear of the number 13) hang around.”

Although the updated entry for “phobia” stirred up some controversy, another big announcement from the Associated Press had the opposite effect: the launch of its first Spanish-language stylebook, with more than 3,500 entries. As described by the AP itself, “Spanish-language journalists can now learn that the correct word for channel-surfing is “zapeo,” sexting is best written in their language as “sextear,” “submarino” is an accepted term for waterboarding and Thanksgiving day is accurately translated as “Dia de Accion de Gracias.”” Several Spanish-language journalists expressed excitement at the announcement, especially for its ability to teach users meanings of words that differ in various Spanish-language countries.
In our opinion, the AP’s decision to expand its style guide to other languages signifies that the reference guide is here to stay. And now that digital subscriptions are available, updates to the AP Stylebook are readily available – meaning we no longer have to wait for a new edition to be published each year. As long as the AP continues to stay modern with changes like these, the AP Stylebook isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

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