AP announces stylebook updates at 2018 ACES conference

AP announces stylebook updates at 2018 ACES conference

April 27, 2018 By ACES staff Conferences

The AP Stylebook team announced several style changes during its session Friday, April 27, at ACES national conference in Chicago.

Paula Froke, lead editor for the AP Stylebook, led the session.

Among the items announced: 

Other changes:

Froke called attention to the new polls/surveys chapter, which was released a few weeks ago and a new survivor, victim entry. The entry says:

survivor, victim Use these terms with care because they can be imprecise and politically and legally fraught.

Survivor can denote someone who has lived through an injury or disease, but also can apply to someone who endured a threat but escaped injury altogether. Example: a mass shooting survivor. Likewise, victim can create confusion because it can variously mean someone killed, injured or subjected to mistreatment such as sexual misconduct.

Be specific if there is room for confusion: The ceremony honored people wounded in the mass shooting, not The ceremony honored victimsand/or survivors of the mass shooting. The play told the story of those killed in the hurricane, not The play told the stories of the hurricane’s victims.

Also be alert to potential biases and assumptions inherent in the word victim. A phrase such as AIDS victim, for instance, not only makes it unclear whether the subject is alive or dead, but many AIDS patients do not consider themselves victims. Instead, use neutral, precise descriptions: He has AIDS. She has hepatitis. In crime stories, avoid alleged victim if possible; it is too easily construed as skepticism. In stories in which sexual misconduct or other allegations are leveled, consider calling the person making the allegations an accuser instead of avictim if shorthand is needed, to avoid implications of guilt on the part of the accused.

Survivor is often used to describe people who have lived through physical or emotional trauma, as in abuse or rape survivor. It is best to be specific when referring to individuals, especially if the person was never in danger of death. Use of survivor gets more latitude when describing groups. A group of Holocaust survivors met at the memorial.

Froke also called attention to the sexual harassment, sexual misconduct entry released earlier this year, which says:

sexual harassment, sexual misconduct

These are broad terms that can cover a wide variety of actions or behavior. In stories, be as specific as possible in describing the kinds of behavior that is being alleged or admitted – such as groping, unwanted kissing, disrobing, or verbal or physical abuse or assault.

If a shorter term is needed, for example in a headline, AP uses the generalized description sexual misconduct, rather than sexual harassment, because it encompasses a broader range of sexual misbehavior and does not run the risk of diminishing some of the alleged acts.

As with all accusations, these allegations should be well-documented and corroborated in some way, including an effort to get comment from the accused individuals or their representatives.

Granting anonymity to accusers should follow AP’s strict guidelines on the use of anonymity.

The stylebook also expanded its guidance on the terms Dreamer and chain migration. It says "chain migration" should be avoided.

PHOTO: Paula Froke and Colleen Newvine of the Associated Press Stylebook team talk about changes in the newest stylebook during the ACES national conference on Friday, April 27, in Chicago.

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