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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Associated Press Stylebook helped change language for gay and black people

The AP Stylebook, which defines various editorial guidelines for news stories written for the Associated Press, are religiously followed by some newspapers, but largely ignored by many others, according to a combined Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald Sunday newspaper commentary by Steve Lundeberg, Democrat-Herald, "Rebellion under way," Sunday Gazette-Times, printed May 18, 2014, p. A6. Below is my letter to the editor in reply:

Albany Democrat-Herald editorial page editor Steve Lundeberg last Sunday humorously questioned his onetime desire to follow the editorial conventions of the AP Stylebook by asking, "who really cares?"

Historically, both racists and social justice scholars have either blamed or credited the Associated Press Stylebook for fueling the transition of newspaper editors from commonly using the terms "colored people" or "Negroes" to "black people."

Similarly, in 2000, the AP Stylebook amended its online entry for "gay" to specifically discourage references to a "gay lifestyle" because during the AIDS crisis anti-gay politicians used it.

Similar to Lundeberg, when I questioned my college journalism professor about the illogic of his editorial rules, he advised me to become an engineer!

I took his advice and only after decades of watching editors move from editorial conventions, such as insisting that the acronym for alternating current be abbreviated with lowercase letters separated by periods, to the modern practice of just "AC" (all capital letters with no spaces or periods), did I realize that English rules and stylebooks only document the current fashion of an "in crowd" of editors.

Lundeberg has clearly outgrown his adolescent need to be part of the in crowd.

Thomas Kraemer,
(Quoted from Thomas Kraemer, "Columnist opts out of the 'in crowd,'" Albany Democrat-Herald Gazette-Times Sunday edition, May 25, 3014, p. A9)

See previous posts:

The same editor of the Albany newspaper also recently wrote a strangely personal piece recounting his adolescent experience with jockstraps: Steve Lundeberg, "Support from mom makes memories that endure," Albany Democrat-Herald and Gazette-Times, Sunday, Apr. 11, 2014 - he says, "I try to phone at least once a week and Mom . . . What follows is a traumatic and humiliating story . . autumn 1975, I was a 12-year-old seventh-grader . . the locker room where he kept his socks, shoes, shirt, shorts and jock . . Happy Mother's Day" -- I let the readers of this blog do the Freudian analysis of this story!