AP Stylebook marks its 60th Anniversary with Important Changes

Published: 26 June 2013

Region: Worldwide

AP2013-2The Associated Press Stylebook celebrates its 60th Anniversary with the 2013 print edition. This year’s book broadens the guidelines on social media and includes nearly 100 new or updated entries.

One of the major changes was AP’s decision of eliminating the term “illegal immigrant” from its stylebook, which is considered “the journalist’s bible” and used by editors and writers around the world.

AP decided in April 2013 to stop using ‘illegal immigrant’ or ‘illegal’ to describe a person and recommended instead to use it to describe “only an action, such as living n or immigrating to a country illegally”, explained AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll on a post blog titled, ‘Illegal immigrant’ no more .

“Being called “illegal” without trial or conviction is inaccurate and offensive”, wrote Aidan White for the Media Diversity Institute’s Blog. He recalled the comments of The New York Times editorial writer Lawrence Downes “who has written that “illegal” is often “a code word for racial and ethnic hatred.”

The AP’s decision is part of the news media policy to shift away from labelling people and toward labelling behaviours. This was also the reason that led AP to a new entry on mental illness, recommending “not to describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced”.

Among other changes on word use included in the 2013 edition are disabled/handicapped, ethnic cleansing and homophobia.

Related articles:

AP leads as Media Finally Ditch ‘Illegal’ Label for Migration

AP Stylebook Adds Entry on Mental Health

AP drops ‘homophobia’ from its Stylebook, but not everyone agrees

New York Times Keeps ‘Illegal Immigrant’