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Style, A.M. class

If you’re in the a.m. class, post your comments on style here.

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  1. Lucy Fitzpatrick
    September 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    I was very interested in what Clark Hoyt had to say about perceptions from readers in regard to the Stylebook and The New York Times’ usage of it. I think it is great that The New York Times can stick to their beliefs and rules and not bend easily to the views and opinions of the public, regardless of their positivity or negativity. I was surprised to see that the appropriate usage of SEALs is Seals. Even for me, who doesn’t usually pay too much attention to the specific titles of our service men can recognize the term SEAL. I can understand why some of the SEALs would prefer to be referred to as their specific title. It’s seems like it would be similar to if someone was born the name William, but everyone knows him as bill. If a newspaper would refuse to address him as Bill in print because it isn’t technically correct, that would bother me. I think it is silly that people find it offensive to refer to President Obama as Mr. Obama. I wish I didn’t, but I unfortunately find it easy to believe that people would take offense to that and assume it is some sort of giant diss to Mr. Obama and his administration. Clearly, this is not a slight thought because all of the presidents before him were also referred to in the same manner. I think people just always want to find something in politics to argue about, which it unnecessary. I am glad that the term midget had been removed as appropriate in the AP Stylebook. Although at the time it was placed I’m sure it was acceptable, times and sensitivities have changed and it is nice that AP recognizes that.

    I found the Q and A with David Minthorn to be very interesting. I have used the AP Stylebook in many classes previous to this one for a variety of purposes but I have never really stopped to think about how it has come into being. It was very interesting to lean that there are three main people who contribute to the changes made to the AP Stylebook each year. It is also very interesting to learn that these changes happened after years of discussions and sometimes even when decisions are finally agreed upon, people still complain about the rules in the book. I think it is funny that the term “unfriend” is now an entry in the AP Stylebook. I also think it is funny that I recently learned it still comes up as spelled incorrectly in Microsoft Word. It really goes to show how much social culture can affect general culture. Social media is defining the way people interact and share information and it is also affecting AP Style.

    If I were going to ask the editor a question I think I would ask a question more specific to the history of AP Style and the stylebook and how it originated. I would be very interested to know how and why the AP Stylebook came into place. Did it originate as just a messy paper list scribbled and posted on a corkboard in a newsroom, as a cheat sheet for writers so they wouldn’t have to ask their editors as many questions? Or did it come after some sort of mass confusion when many papers referred to an entry in a way different from other papers?

  2. Meagan Jungman
    September 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    Clark Hoyt’s article, Consistent, Sensitive and Weird, highlighted several very interesting points that we have been discussing in class. The hostility of an audience over politically correct terminology and the proper spelling of titles should serve as a warning flair to editors. The AP style was put into place to serve as a guide and to standardize journalistic writing across the board. However, it was put into place with the general public in mind—their beliefs and reading capabilities. What newspapers must understand, are that those variables are constantly changing and adapting. What was once deemed acceptable in the past is often altered in the future. While grammatical and linguistic guidelines are important, they should not always be zealously followed. Sometimes, rules need to be broken—or at least revised. The key to a successful paper is in knowing one’s audience. AP style may deem it acceptable to use the term “midget” when referring to a person born with dwarfism, however, if one asks the average person on the street, they’ll generally identify it as a derogatory term. Newspapers mustn’t lose sight of their readers—otherwise they run the risk of becoming outdated, archaic novelties.

    In light of the argument listed above, I greatly enjoyed reading the Minthorn Q and A session. While he champions the AP style as a framework to homogenize grammar in journalistic writing, he acknowledges the importance of readers, not only as recipients, but sources of alterations to the AP Stylebook. For example, the change from Web Site to website was done because, outside of AP style, the term was predominately written as “website.”

    If I were writing a question for Minthorn’s Ask the Editor column, I’d want to know what terms were sanctioned as safe and appropriate substitutions for the word “said.”

  3. Jeremy Hamann
    September 19, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    -Hoyt Article-
    Mr. Hoyt’s article highlighted many intriguing facets of the New York Times’ style. The article was great because it revealed how much style affects how some people will react to a story. Not only do the New York Times have their own specific style and style editor but they are also attacked frequently because of it. I think that people, especially “patriotic Americans” will get their uppity about any seeming “attack” on the military establishment, and that is their right. But, as shown in Mr. Hoyt’s article, people were getting upset because of the New York Time’s use of their style, not of their disrespect for the Marines or Navy SEALs. Thus, it makes sense to have the AP stylebook to be a universal guide on how to publish the English language. In my opinion it seems like the New York Times is holding on to some perceived sense of superiority in their refusal to adopt the AP style. This refusal affects readability and that has certainly been shown. So, why not just go with the flow and get with the AP program?
    -Minthorn Q&A-
    I appreciate the weight and gravity in which Mr. Minthorn gives to his job, editing the AP Stylebook, especially in regards to adding new entries. He obviously holds the English language in high regard and also knows that his work influences many people writing in the English language. With all of this said, his job seems as though it requires a great level of cultural awareness to where the English language is heading and to what it is morphing into. Mr. Minthorn’s admission that the AP style editor’s take suggestions from journalism students was very encouraging not only because it meant that we as students hold weight in the minds’ of people in such a position but also that Mr. Minthorn and his team desire to take input from younger people and how they use language. I am also very intrigued to see what the melding of AP broadcast and print styles will look like when the rules are released.
    I would like as the editor about the appropriate use of a comma in a list of three or more things. Does the comma come before or after the “and” or “or”. Do we even need a comma?

  4. Justin Van Nostrand
    September 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Clark Hoyt’s article was really interesting because it shows you just how oblivious people are to AP style. Even the typically well-educated audience of The New York Times struggled with the style that The Times’ writers were adhering to. This shows just how important having a standardized style is, and also how hard it is to keep everyone informed and obedient of the rules. The New York Times doesn’t follow AP style exactly and they have their own specific rules that set their style apart from other papers. It seems like it causes a lot of confusion for some people because they do this, and I kind of wish that they would just go with AP style and keep things consistent.

    The Q & A session with Mr. Minthorn was really informative. Minthorn did a good job detailing what goes into the process of creating and updating the AP Stylebook. It’s really awesome to see how he responds to societal changes and how those changes affect vocabulary, grammar and style. I really liked that Minthorn detailed the importance of adhering to AP style outside of newspaper print and into online journalism. I’m particularly interested in online reporting and find that many writers/websites get very lazy when it comes to style.

    If I could ask Mr. Minthorn a question I would definitely ask him how to fix the sloppy journalism that is so common online and especially in the technological sector. I find that many of my favorite websites don’t proofread and often ignore simple grammar mistakes. I would also ask Mr. Minthorn why it is so easy for sites to get away this kind of junk. I have a feeling the answer is that most readers just don’t know there is anything wrong at all.

  5. Elle Engebretson
    September 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    I liked the Q and A with AP Stylebook Editor David Minthorn. I thought the answers by Minthorn gave readers an insight into why using the AP Stylebook is important and told how entries were chosen for the book. I never realized how simple spelling or usage of words can offend people. People speak in slang and jargon on a common basis, especially with Facebook, text messaging and Twitter which have all become an everyday part of our lives. That is why the AP Stylebook is valuable to have. It helps the proper English language remain intact and yet mold to fit with the changing times. Minthorn answered that feedback is important to him when deciding on what to leave and change in the book. People have a voice and we are changing the way the English language is written, not just spoken.

    The article published by Clark Hoyt interested me. For a well-known newspaper like “The New York Times” to have controversy surrounding it over the type of style it uses is astonishing to me. When President Obama is referred to as Mr. Obama, which is courtesy title, I don’t understand why that would offend people. It is the proper AP style and the polite, correct way to write a person’s name when in second reference. This is how every day people’s names are written and when not in first reference, president doesn’t need to come before Obama every time. This article showed how important it is to listen to feedback from the public and keep up the language. Words that once weren’t offensive now are, and journalists need to use the proper style.

    One question I would ask like to Ask the Editor is if a street name that has place at the end of it, for example Silver Brook Place, can place be abbreviated? I know the road and avenue have certain rules but I didn’t know if place also had an AP style rule.

  6. Bethany Hebert
    September 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I’m intrigued that The Times is so strict in its dealings with AP style. I would think that they would try to be a bit more flexible when many others are, but I can appreciate its writers for following the rules. What else are they there for? Also, I thought it was common to call the president “Mr.” on second reference. In fact, because they do not use courtesy titles for anyone else, I would assume that makes it more respectful that they use it for him, instead of without. I didn’t understand what that last bit had to do with the AP style, but it was sad that Lya Graf had to die in Auschwitz.

    First off, I didn’t know that there were specialty sections to the AP Style handbook. Also, why is it that three people get to be the ones who make the major decisions to how all journalists write. I’m glad that Minthorn actually does a Q and A section, though I feel like the style book should explain some of the reasonings behind their decisions. Everything is short and brief, that it leaves many questioning the logic used to decide.

    My one question to Ask the Editor would be why do you have to change it every year? Shouldn’t the rule book be absolute for more than a year? And if you really need to update something, why not just send out and extra thin book that corrects any changes made?

  7. Mitch Mattern
    September 20, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I enjoyed an insider’s look at the oddities of a stylebook in Clark Hoyt’s column. I’ve been thinking that some rules in the AP stylebook are kind of odd, and I wonder about the origin of these rules sometimes. I thought it was interesting that the acronym rule from the New York Times’ stylebook was originally created “to limit the number of all-caps acronyms ‘looking like pieces of kitty litter all over the newspaper.’” That explanation really makes no sense at all, and Hoyt even pointed out that this rule is becoming less applicable for online material. As far as the complaints of readers about capitalizing Marine, and not calling President Obama Mr. Obama, I think it is good that readers notice these things. It means they not only care about what they are reading, but they care a little bit about style too. It probably was time to capitalize Marine, and as long as they are consistent with calling President Obama Mr. Obama on second reference, I don’t see a problem.

    The Q & A with David Minthorn was very interesting because I didn’t know how any of the decisions were made regarding the AP Stylebook. What I found most interesting was that editors of the stylebook wait for something to become widely accepted before they make an addition or a change to an entry. I kind of thought the editors of the stylebook made random changes and then people just accepted those changes. It is good thing, though, that these three people who are in charge of editing the stylebook take input from so many different people before they implement a change.

    If I could ask the editor something, I would ask how newspapers that have their own stylebook handle articles and columns from the wire or from other newspapers. For example, if the New York Times wanted to print something from the AP wire, would they edit the story so that it matched the New York Times style?

  8. Samantha Rendon
    September 20, 2010 at 2:08 am

    I found Hoyt’s article really interesting because I am not one to pay attention to the details this piece is written about. For me, if I can quickly scan a news story and regurgitate the basics to my peers I consider it a well-written piece…but I’m learning to appreciate style. This being said, I like that Hoyt presented the facts as they are without trying to defend The Times own style. He even states this odd practice in his title “Consistent, Sensitive and Weird”. I think it would be beneficial for this newspaper to swallow its pride and adhere to AP style in an effort to ease confusion and the possibility of offending its readers. In addition, having its own style guidelines can be intimidating to new readers and may even turn some away because this paper seems too exclusive.
    The Q & A with Minthorn was also very interesting because it gave background to the AP style I am just now learning. To know the behind–the-scenes work that goes into this book adds value to the learning process. When the question “How many editors make stylebook decisions?” was asked, I immediately pictured a room filled with style snobs relentlessly debating over these changes. So, I was surprised to learn a small team of three made these universal rules for style and how the news is delivered.
    Question:As social media grows, would the AP Stylebook editors consider posting new vocabulary and style rules on an online source to keep up with the fast paced nature of this medium?

  9. Marissa Coopersmith
    September 20, 2010 at 9:05 am

    I think Mr. Hoyt’s article presented a strong comparison between the two most recognized newspaper writing styles here in the US. The AP style is the main powerhouse in newspaper writing. It’s the style that the majority of newspapers depend on and use. When AP style makes a change, like the spelling and usage of the word ‘website’, almost all of the papers published here today will make the change as well in their published articles, as they continue to use the AP Stylebook as their strongest reference guideline. I thought the controversy, however, seen in the New York Times’ style was interesting as well because, although AP dominates most news rooms, the New York Times is a powerhouse of its own due to its deep embedded history in journalism and newspaper distribution. It conforms to its own rules and doesn’t let AP have much influence over it. To get something changed in the New York Times’ style, long campaigns and years of controversy must take place to overturn something that has been a standard for many, many years. I did think it was silly, though, to see that they didn’t capitalize “marines” or use all caps for SEAL. I think respect for the military and how they formally refer to themselves is more important than worrying about your words “looking like pieces of kitty litter all over the newspaper.”

    I thought the Q and A with Minthorn was really insightful. It was interesting to be able to see how they approach different controversies over words and their usage. I was aware that the book had special guideline sections in addition to its A-Z, but I wasn’t aware that one of these sections was Social Media Guidelines. Maybe it’s because I have a 2008 edition, but I think it’s just interesting to see how much the online world has influenced our knowledge and our writing. Words that never had much usage or meaning before, like “unfriending” someone, now has common significance across the board to online users and journalists.

    I would like to Ask the Editor how someone even goes about aquiring such a position as an AP editor. If there’s only three main editors who make the rules and guidelines that are used across the nation, how do you even get to a spot like that? In other words, how do you work your way up to becoming the god of AP style?

  10. September 20, 2010 at 9:13 am

    The first column was very interesting. I don’t read the New York Times much so I was surprised when I saw that they do that with acronyms and other references. I think that is kind of disrespectful. Does they think they are too good to follow the published AP Stylebook? I couldn’t believe they’d use the term “midget”. They would be getting complaints left and right for that. Most newspapers want to avoid conflict by being politically correct. It’s almost like the New York Times is trying to cause conflict. It is good that some of the writers are now aware of the rules they are going against. I like this column and I think it’s good that he addressed this issues. It can make writers more aware and they will know to fact check.

    I think the Q & A is a good column. Right away I was interested because of the first answer. Style is important, just like you said in the assignment description, for framework. If everyone was just writing in their own style the readers could get confused. I could see how small towns use their own, that’s understandable. But, they should still try to follow the AP stylebook as much as possible if they want to be taken seriously and not just a town newsletter.

    Making the AP stylebook seems like a tough job. Just having to keep everything in check would be hard. With the new social media I can’t believe they have “unfriend” as a word. I wonder if they’ll be having “tweet” or any other words like that soon. One question I would ask them is the process they go through. I would ask if they had somewhat of a panel and just voted on it or one person decides. Are there guidelines for the AP stylebook and what constitutes as proper grammar? How often had they had to change one of their own rules? If it was correct one year did they realize they had to change it back the next?

  11. Danielle Kaster
    September 20, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Hoyt Article:
    I have always wanted to become a master of writing. I take pride in the flow of a sentence and the eloquence correct grammar brings. It has been my experience, though, that most people do not share the same feeling; they rush through papers and e-mails not caring how they sound or any consistency in their usage. I was a little shocked when I saw that people were offended by the Time’s usage of “Seals,” especially since it is correct according to the AP Stylebook. I defend the Times. It shows, though, that journalists must compromise at times to not offend anyone. The tricky part about that is finding out when compromising becomes poor in consistent writing.

    I found the article from Minthorn was interesting. I think it would be an exciting job to work in his position. His probable knowledge of the language is impressive. I feel how you present yourself in writing is a reflection of how you present yourself in life. Journalists should have consistent rules so they can focus on getting their story across.

    Ask the Editor
    It was so good to know that other people care about grammar and writing. I can’t tell you the number of times I write a simple sentence and wonder should I write “3” or “three?” I would want to know his view on the word “allegedly.” In my broadcasting class they recommend not using the word at all. I also get confused in where to put punctuation when using quotes; can you put a semi-colon inside a quote?

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