A look at AP Stylebook, Daily Cal style changes in the last year

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In order to maintain a standard of consistent and sensitive journalism, The Daily Californian follows style and usage guidelines set by The Associated Press and the Daily Cal’s senior editorial board. But changing times demand changing coverage — here are some recent AP Stylebook and Daily Cal style changes that reflect recent events and political shifts.

Sexual harassment, sexual misconduct

The #MeToo movement went viral in October 2017. This AP Stylebook entry, which was created in November 2017 and updated in January 2018, tells journalists to “be as specific as possible in describing the kinds of behavior that is being alleged or admitted.” Both terms are vague — readers can only fully understand the story if journalists clarify what they are reporting. The Daily Cal often uses content warnings for stories on these sensitive subjects.

Survivor, victim

The AP Stylebook urges reporters and editors to “use these (terms) with care because they can be imprecise and politically and legally fraught.” These words can apply to people in various situations — specificity is key for journalists. The entry was created in April 2018, likely in order to address news coverage of subjects such as sexual assault, mass shootings and natural disasters.

Boy, girl

This AP Stylebook entry from May 2018 contains political nuance — one part of the entry says, “Referring to black males of any age and in any context as ‘boys’ … can be perceived as demeaning and call to mind historical language used by some to address black men.” The entry also comments more generally by saying that it is inaccurate for journalists to use either of these terms to describe people older than 18.

Counterprotester

This is a Daily Cal style entry from summer 2018. The entry standardizes the spelling of the term — one word, no hyphen — and also reflects the current political climate: Berkeley has seen many heated protests in 2018, with these events often featuring antagonism between two opposing groups of protesters.

They, them, their

These words have become increasingly used and recognized as singular pronouns. This AP Stylebook entry says that when writing about someone who uses they/them/their pronouns, it is helpful to “explain in the text that the person prefers a gender-neutral pronoun” in order to ensure clarity. This is the general format for how we clarify someone’s pronouns in Daily Cal stories: “_______, who uses they/them pronouns…”

Political parties and philosophies

Another recent AP change appears in this entry. AP says to “avoid the term ‘progressive’ as a political descriptor except in quotes or the names of organizations or political parties.” The reasoning? According to AP, the term can “imply improvement” instead of maintaining neutral coverage.

Pilipinx

This is a new Daily Cal style entry that takes into account gender-neutral language and acknowledges the unique culture of people who trace their heritage to the Philippines. The last letter of “Pilipinx” indicates that this is a gender-neutral term for people of this ethnic group, and the first letter respects the languages of the Philippines — there is no “F” sound in these languages.

Nick Furgatch is an assistant night editor. Contact him at [email protected] .