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AP styleguide: Bible?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by CCaple, May 21, 2009.

  1. CCaple

    CCaple Member

    I know there's been discussion here before of what to do with a story when you've got multiple people with the same last name.

    But I'm fighting with the ed-in-chief and copy chief here (I'm the SE at our school rag) over the AP's ruling on this. We've got a story in which the kid's mom is quoted once, and they're insisting that because they have the same last name, we have to use the kid's first and last name on every single reference after the mom's quote.

    To me, this is ridiculous. It reads like shit when you use the first and last name every time, and it's very, very obvious that the 'Kwan' we are referring to in every subsequent reference is the baseball player, and not his mother.

    So I guess the overriding theme of this post is: what is your paper's policy on bending AP style rules? In my opinion, it's a common sense/practicality thing. But do you guys follow AP to the letter? What if it's something not covered in your paper's style guide, but the AP rule reads funny in a certain circumstance? My superiors here don't seem to grasp the fact that sometimes, the AP rule simply isn't the most feasible thing.

    Thoughts from those older and wiser than myself?
  2. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    Whenever I have a random family member in a story, on first reference I make the connection.. his mom, Sue. Then I use that first name on the quote. The body and bulk of the story, the subject is referred to by the last name. In 23 years, no one has ever changed that.
  3. CCaple

    CCaple Member

    Actually, when I was making my first round of edits, I did that exactly. But then they also insisted that she need a last name, invoking the whole first name-plus-last name rule.
  4. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    You have my sympathy
  5. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    If it is your paper's style, though, you have to bow to it.

    There are things my paper does that annoy the hell out of me, but it is their style.
  6. CCaple

    CCaple Member

    Kind of what I figured. Though our paper doesn't have its own specified style for this kind of thing, other than what the AP says.
  7. Bump_Wills

    Bump_Wills Member

    No style guide is the word of God, handed down on the mount. You can find screwy shit in AP, in Strunk and White, in Chicago, in pretty much any style guide ever written. By avoidance or defiance, a thinking writer will work around the rules when the rules put him/her in a ridiculous place.

    You seem to have found just such a location. Do the right thing (as opposed to the correct thing).
  8. CCaple

    CCaple Member

    If it were up to me, the right (and not correct) thing would have already been done.
  9. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    If the AP style book is the Bible, then I don't believe in a Christian God.
  10. DirtyDeeds

    DirtyDeeds Guest

    CCaple, like you said in that instance it should be common sense. If it's clear that you aren't referring to the mom, then no need for first and last name. Sounds like your editors are being a pain, but if they are above you, you just have to suck it up. If it's spelled out clearly in the AP or newpaper style book, you should follow it, but this is a judgment call, I think.
  11. spaceman

    spaceman Active Member

    AP doesn't even use AP style anymore.
  12. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Most large newspapers have their own stylebook, usually an adaptation of the AP's but with numerous exceptions plus local stuff not covered by AP's stylebook. I forget which paper' stylebook said this, but the gist was that the stylebook was not intended as a substitute for common sense. One paper's stylebook said that the editors are aware room for argument exists on many issues, but the purpose of the stylebook is to settle arguments, not create them -- in other words, we understand the arguments for using RBI as a plural and RBIs as a plural, but we have decided (correctly, IMO) to go with RBI.

    I'm a "spirit of law" guy rather than a "letter of the law" guy. I believe context often should dictate decisions. In the case mentioned by the thread starter, I agree with him/her. However, while there are issues that warrant arguing with an editor-in-chief, this isn't one of them. He or she apparently has ruled on the matter, so live with it. It's a minor thing.
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