New AP Stylebook Cuts the ‘Malarkey,’ Brings in the ‘WMD’

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By: Joe Strupp

The newest version of the Associated Press Stylebook is available, and if you follow it, “WMD,” “iPhone” and “anti-virus” are in, while “barmaid,” “blue blood” and “malarkey” are out.

Those are just some of the changes to its rules for certain often-used phrases and words. There are also new acceptable forms of describing the Sept. 11 attacks, and a different rule for use for “African-American.”

“Updates and additions in the Stylebook, the standard reference tool in newsrooms and many professional offices across the country, reflect changes in word usage and in society,” AP officials said in a statement.

Among the differences for the 2008 print edition of the popular style guide:

? More than 200 new entries, ranging from “anti-virus” to “iPhone” and “WMD.”

? Other new entries include anti-spyware, high-definition, outsourcing, podcast, text messaging, social networking, snail mail and Wikipedia, with new sports terms such as minicamp and wild card.

? Among the entries eliminated for the new Stylebook are milquetoast, Photostat, riffraff and WAC, “which is no longer used by the U.S. military but may describe a woman who served in what had been the Women?s Army Corps,” according to the AP.

Also changing is the rule for use of “African-American,” which previously indicated that the “preferred term is black.” Now, the African-American entry states: “Acceptable for an American black person of African descent. ‘Black’ is also acceptable. The terms are not necessarily interchangeable.”

It’s debatable that the term should now always carry a hyphen, as the entry suggests; the hyphen is ordinarily only applied when the term is used as a compound modifier — i.e., “African-American artist.”

In another significant revision, “mentally retarded” is no longer the preferred term, replaced by “mentally disabled.”

The entry for “Sept. 11,” previously the preferred term in describing the 2001 terrorist attacks, now notes, “Also acceptable is 9/11.”

“Company names” has grown to three and-a-half pages, listing the formal names of the top 100 U.S. companies and 50 major non-U.S. firms. The new “cable networks” and “movie studios” entries list the leading entities in those media — from A&E to the Weather Channel and from Columbia TriStar to The Weinstein Co. — as well as their owners.

“The revised Business Guidelines section contains new primers on covering bankruptcy and mergers and acquisitions, and interpreting proxy statements,” AP stated.

The Stylebook was first produced in 1953 as a stapled collection of rules totaling 62 pages, compared with more than 300 pages today.

The new print edition and online subscriptions can be ordered by credit card online at a secure site at http://www.apbookstore.com. The cost is $11.75 for member news organizations, $11.75 for college bookstores and $18.95 retail.

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