Writing for a newspaper is different than writing academic papers, law briefings or even for broadcast journalism. Every publication has its own style for certain things, but every publication I’ve ever worked for has also followed the “Associated Press Stylebook.”
Those two guides are usually why our writings may look different than what nonjournalists are used to. But, every editor has different strengths and as we’re all human, we sometimes make mistakes, so that’s another reason some things may look different than expected.
But in my experience, when a reader wants to know why we do something a certain way, nine times out of 10 the answer is “because it’s AP sytle.” As I’ve been doing this so long, I feel like I know AP style pretty well and pay close attention whenever anything in it is updated, like the recent decision that Daylight Saving Time is not plural.
That change, only using doctor for medical professionals and the absense of the oxford comma before the “and” in a sentence listing three or more items are just some of the AP style items I’ve had to defend over the years. Some of those defenses have been to people who formerly worked as journalists arguing that the AP’s rules are arbitrary but I believe the people making style decisions have weighed their choices carefully and having a unifying guide for nearly all journalists is good for the profession.
Local style, is what I think can get tricky. That’s when an individual publication’s editors decide they want certain things done in a manner that doesn’t necessarily coincide with AP style.
The local style item we use the most at the Herald Democrat is not including an acronym for a long title on first reference. Other places I’ve worked would have had me include an acronym like SEDCO in parathenses right after the first reference to the Sherman Economic Development Corp. But here, we first use the acronym on the second reference.
It takes some getting used to for all our new writers, but it’s a habit I don’t think I could break in my writing.
Happy birthday Sunday to Mel Carruth of Denison; Ron Marshall, Nancy Johnson and Howard Waters, all of Sherman.
Happy birthday Monday to Jerry Don Guess and France Holland, both of Sherman; Michael Cooper of Tom Bean; and Shirley Henderson of Pottsboro.