Keeping up with the Associated Press

By: Kayla Hunt, Columnist

Journalism can be a tough field, having to keep up with the ongoing technological and cultural changes, such as shifts in social standards, beliefs, values and ethics.  

The Associated Press (AP) is a news agency company that publishes the AP Stylebook annually, which is the writing style guide with standardized rules for mass communication that journalists refer to. AP updates its stylebook every year to adjust to new trends, new conversations and new controversies.

In the recent ACES conference, the AP Stylebook editor Paula Froke and product manager Colleen Newvine shared some of the updated rules that will be included in the 2019 version of the AP Stylebook, which is set to be released in May.

There were plenty of highlights that were announced in the conference for what is to be expected in the 2019 edition, including: a new entry covering the terms racist/racism, a new entry about the terms people of color and racial minorities, guidance about the use of the term Latinx and guidance to use the name of a specific Native American tribe whenever possible.

Some of the new specific rules that were released during the conference were:

  1. No hyphen in African American, Asian American and other dual heritage terms
  2. Do not use racially charged or similar terms as euphemisms for racist or racism
  3. If racist is not the appropriate term, carefully choose other alternatives to describe the situation, such as racially divisive, racially sensitive or simply racial.

These new standards that have been set for when journalists write racially sensitive stories is a major advance in the field of mass communications. It doesn’t only provide clarity on how to cover these stories, but also gives clarity on accurately discussing people’s identities.

“That the entry around race and racism has been updated in @APStylebook is a huge deal and the result of hours of work and honest conversations by several of my colleagues on how all journalists cover issues of race. #ACESAPStyle,” tweeted Errin Haines Whack (@emarvelous), the Associated Press’ national writer for race and ethnicity.

These conversations are always tough to write and discuss because of the high sensitivity. Having the AP Stylebook address these concerns and guide journalists on how to appropriately cover these stories is an important and much needed progression.

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