Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Some interesting AP style changes

Some AP style updates came out today, and while they aren't likely to create the furor that allowing "over" for "more than" did, there are a few interesting things:

Here are the changes and a few of my thoughts:

media Generally takes a plural verb, especially when the reference is to individual outlets: Media are lining up for and against the proposal. Sometimes used with a singular verb when referring to media as a monolithic group: Media is the biggest force in a presidential campaign. (adds reference to use as a singular noun)
This will drive some of my colleagues nuts. What can I say? Welcome to a long-needed recognition of modern usage (and if you want to double up on that Advil dose, remember, data is also allowed as a singular in some uses).

mezcal Clear liquor from Mexico made from a variety of agave plants. (new entry)
Two liquor entries in one update (see whisky below). Is this an acknowledgement that AP style will sometimes drive you to drink?

horchata Spanish and Mexican drink made by steeping nuts, seeds and grains, and served cool. (new entry)

nearshore waters (new entry to show nearshore is one word)

notorious, notoriety Some understand these terms to refer simply to fame; others see them as negative terms, implying being well-known because of evil actions. Be sure the context for these words is clear, or use terms like famous, prominent, infamous, disreputable, etc. (new entry)
This is AP oh-so-carefully edging toward the reality of modern usage. However, just as the enormity/enormousness distinction has been pretty much erased in modern conversational usage, it's always good for professional writers to observe the niceties.

 online petitions Be cautious about quoting the number of signers on such petitions. Some sites make it easy for the person creating the petition or others to run up the number of purported signers by clicking or returning to the page multiple times. (new entry)
Sage advice. File this under the general guidance: Take most things you find online with a grain of salt, a derivative of the almost legendary (yeah, so smite me, I used that word): If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

spokesman, spokeswoman, spokesperson Use spokesperson if it is the preference of an individual or an organization. (adds spokesperson to entry)
Inevitable, really. So now we get to the weasel "preference" language. Just one more thing in the heat of battle that reporters will forget to ask and later rationalize. Just say "spokesperson," for all its ungainliness, is acceptable in all uses, let it go and leave it up to local style.

voicemail (now one word)
Welcome to 2016.

 whisky, whiskey Class of liquor distilled from grains. Includes bourbon, rye and Irish whiskey. Use spelling whisky only in conjunction with Scotch whisky, Canadian whisky and Japanese whisky. (adds Japanese whisky to those spelled whisky)
Have to amend one of my favorite quiz question. But really, if you say you want to be part of a profession with a history like ours, shouldn't you know the niceties?

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3 Comments:

At 2/21/16, 5:49 PM, Blogger Devan Trout said...

Thank you so much for the heads up on all the new AP style changes. I have a question, where would you be able to find the true numbers for online petitions? If the petition results can be falsified, how does one know where to find the true total? I understand how people are able to make this number higher by logging into the website multiple times. Is there not a way to keep this from happening?

 
At 2/21/16, 6:17 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

That's the issue, as it is with many things online. There is really no way to verify them that I know of and no solid way I know to keep repeat voting down. A site can try a cookie, but those can be deleted. It can try an IP address log, but then all you do is switch computers (or wait 24 hours -- some ISPs shuffle your IP address regularly at midnight or you get a new one every time you log on).

Caveat emptor, as they say.

But this is not a new issue. We've wrestle with crowd estimates for decades. Sometimes they are wildly varying. It's why we tend to shy away from them these days.

 
At 2/21/16, 10:15 PM, Blogger Abigail Tinker said...

These are crazy! I have not thought about the use of these words in this way. Thank you for sharing and explaining how the AP style has changed. I love the crack you made about "If your mother says she loves you, check it out" comment you put in this article. Very funny.

 

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