AP Changes Style For Heads of State

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By: Joe Strupp

The Associated Press has changed its style of referring to top leaders to include full names on first reference.

?The Associated Press is adopting a universal style for referring to all heads of state, including the United States,? the release stated. ?Effective Thursday at 3 a.m. EST, the AP will use the title and first and family names on first reference: President George W. Bush, not just President Bush; President-elect Barack Obama, not just President-elect Obama; President Nicolas Sarkozy, not just President Sarkozy.?

AP’s Darrell Christian, a co-editor of the AP Stylebook, said the change was made simply to provide consistency between U.S. stories and those from AP overseas.

?We saw a need to standardize how we refer to the president, especially since the wire now services more of a global audience,? Christian explained. ?Stories written overseas and filed directly to U.S. wires would have used first and last names, but stories going out of the U.S. would use the last names.?

Christian said AP traced the last-name only practice back to Franklin Roosevelt: ?But we don?t use last names for heads of state in other countries, so we wanted to be consistent.?

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