AP Stylebook and the importance of keeping up with modern communication

By: Raneisha Stassin

Anybody who studied public relations will most likely come into contact with the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Stylebook for short) and learn to get accustomed to annual updates. I’ve learned to develop an appreciate for their annual updates as they clearly work hard to keep up with how communication continuously changes and as communications professionals, what could be more relevant?

In the the 2016 edition one update that stuck out to me was the global warming section. The updates included an explanation of how the phrases ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ can be used interchangeably. They also stated that writers should not describe those who do not accept climate science as skeptics or deniers but rather ‘climate change doubters’ or  those who reject mainstream climate science.

For example, when writing about someone who rejects this science instead of using a sentence stating “Global warming deniers argue this information is inaccurate,” you would instead write “Those who reject mainstream climate science argue this information is inaccurate.”

What I found particularly interesting about this section was the amount of understanding they had about the topic itself and the detailed explanations they were able to give about the topic. Then I realized they are not only required to understand how communication changes and have excellent grammar skills but they are also required to be well-informed about every topic mentioned in their style guide. Fascinating right?

The topic of global warming in particular is an often discussed controversial topic and the editors of the AP Stylebook recognizes this. Typically writers for mass media strive to be objective, I could tell that this revision was created with that in mind. Saying “skeptics” rather than ‘doubters’ may have implications that were not intended in the original writing. So I admire revisions that honor objectivity.

It’s interesting to focus in on the updates made to each new stylebook because it helps us get an understanding of how communication is changing while also pushing us to stay knowledgable about current social issues and trends.


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