Perhaps it’s just me, now that I’ve entered my 40th year in this business, but I am tired of change. I have seen more changes to the newspaper “Bible“ over the last few years than seemingly there were in the first few decades.
I’m speaking of the AP Stylebook, something everyone in the newspaper business is supposed to adhere to with their stories. (Columnists have more leeway.)
Right about the time I get used to one style, it seems the powers that be at APS throw me a curve knowing they will catch me looking.
The most glaring change in my mind has been how we identify states outside of where we’re located. When I began in 1980, you used abbreviations such as Ala. for Alabama, Calif. for California, Fla. for Florida, Tenn. for Tennessee, and so on.
Sometime in the 90s it was changed to the postal style of just two letters for each state, such as AL for Alabama, CA for California, FL for Florida and TN for Tennessee.
About five years ago, one of our paginators out of North Carolina informed me that the style had changed and we should now spell out states.
We once invested in AP Stylebooks about once every six or seven years, but now they are about as useful as “rabbit ears“ for a satellite television setup. They change more often than Apple iPhones.
The first time I remember the APS being necessary to do a quick reprint was during the Libyan conflict with Momar — or Muammar — Qaddafi. There were several ways different major media outlets spelled his last name (Gadaffi, el-Gaddafi, Kadafi, among others) and some evenings while watching the news I wondered if we were after different people.
They also changed the rule with the date of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. While you only spelled out a month if it didn’t have a day’s number after it, you are supposed to write September 11 for that tragic day, while every other day of the year is abbreviated; i.e. Jan. 1, Feb. 12, Dec. 25.
This week, they changed some of the labeling of academic degrees. It is a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, but a person has a Bachelor of Arts or Master of Science. Notice the difference in apostrophes as well as upper and lower case, and they are not possessive.
Recently, we were also told to use the percent symbol — % — after decades of being told to spell it out — percent.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands of changes over the last few years alone.
Please forgive me if I don’t remember your birthday on Aug. 25 in Wash. or Ore. I’m giving it 99%.