Saturday, May 8, 2010

Associated Press, why hast thou failed me?

AP StylebookThere are three types of people in this world: those who can count, and those who can't.

Obviously, I fall into the latter category.

But while mathematics has never been my strong suit, I am very much a nerd in other ways: English grammar and style. Maybe that's what makes my goal of being a top-notch copy editor at a major newspaper so strong. I love playing with words, editing news stories, and inserting the smallest changes in usage and punctuation to make things better.

Which is why the Associated Press surprised me a few weeks ago. After drilling into my head that "Web site" was the accepted reference for what the uneducated masses refer to as a "website," the AP switched gears and decided that "website" would be its accepted reference, while maintaining "World Wide Web," "Web page," and "the Web."

Has the world gone mad? Has illiteracy run such a rampant course across the world that the leader in newspaper and media style is willing to bend its rules to subject itself to the masses?

There are two main uses for capitalization: the beginning of a sentence, and for proper nouns (Strange that "proper noun" isn't a proper noun, eh?). Obviously, if "website" begins a sentence, it would be subjected to "Website," but there is such little chance of this occurring, as "website," as a noun, will require an article, such as "the," "his" or "her."

But what of the other definition? The Web is a proper noun, short for World Wide Web. This stems from the early days of the Internet (note the capitalization and proper noun), when the "information superhighway" connected the world "like a giant spider web."

So why does the AP feel like now, it's appropriate to deem the "web" in "website" as a regular noun, while maintaining the proper noun of "Web" and "Web page?" Such an issue boggles my mind.

Regardless, for the sake of consistency, and in adherence to the almighty powers of the Associated Press Stylebook, I'll support this change. But I don't have to like it. Nor will I ever.

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