Social Media and Journalism According to the AP

Last week the new AP Stylebook was released, which included 42 new guidelines for social media, and I couldn’t be happier. For those who aren’t in the know, the AP Stylebook is the standard for all things grammar and punctuation in the news world. It’s pretty much the bible all online journalists use when it comes to writing sharp looking articles. Like the one you’re reading now.

Among the changes are the official switch from the use of ‘Web site,’ to ‘website.’ I breathed a sigh of relief at that one, as ‘Web site’ seems so outdated. Some of the other changes included in the AP Stylebook are the separation of ‘smartphone’ to two words, ‘smart phone,’ the hyphenation of ‘e-reader,’ and allowing fan, friend, and follow to be used as both nouns and verbs.

While it may not seem like a big deal, the struggle for journalists to maintain a semblance of order when it comes to writing online is a big one, as we all try and grasp the correct terminology of an ever changing environment. Although some websites (I love writing it that way already), and reporters go rogue and do things their own way, having something like the AP Stylebook to fall back on is a huge advantage for those who are either just coming up in the space, or want to maintain a level of professionalism in a world that doesn’t seem to have many rules.

Also included in the AP Stylebook is a number of definitions for acronyms that are used in texting and instant messaging. Things like ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing), BRB (be right back), G2G (got to go), and POS (parents over shoulder). Although I’ve been known to use POS for something else in my daily escapades around the Internet. Other terms that made it into the AP Stylebook are ‘trending,’ ‘retweet,’ and ‘unfriend.’ Although the AP says that ‘defriend’ is also acceptable, but less common.

So with all these new changes happening, you might notice a bit of a difference in the way your favorite news source reports events from around the world. It’ll will be a slight one, but trust me, it’s there. Just keep your eyes open and notice the way things are spelled when referring to social media and the Internet.

Therefore, if you’re a journalist looking to make a name for his/herself in the world of online reporting, you’d do well to pick up a copy of the AP Stylebook. It will tell you all you need to know, and probably some things you didn’t. Regardless, it will definitely come in handy, even when you’re writing something as simple as a blog post.