As journalism students, we’re familiar (or should be) with how to use the latest version of the AP Stylebook. We know that the proper abbreviation for California is “Calif.”–not “CA”–and that Wal-Mart has a hypen when you’re talking about the corporation itself, but it doesn’t when you’re referencing a single store. We know to capitalize “president” when talking about President Obama, and that it is acceptable to refer to him as Soul Brother Number 1 after the initial reference. Wait… what?
On October 20th, Mark Hale and Ken Lowery created a Twitter feed to parody the one of the actual AP Stylebook. Since it was originally intended to amuse them and their friends, they probably didn’t expect that after 2 weeks, they’d have over 40,000 followers (the actual AP Stylebook has almost 27,000–and has been around much longer), 2,500 list mentions and a potential book deal in the works. Wow. The one month anniversary of this genius idea is approaching in 3 days, and they’ll likely have over 500 tweets by then. The best part about it–they will answer the AP style questions that you are just dying to know and can’t find in the actual book. (Note: using dry humor is advised. They will answer serious questions, but don’t be expecting serious answers.)
Of course, with a following this large, it can’t be a two-man job. (I should ask them if I hyphenate “two-man” in this case…) Hale and Lowery have a group of 16 people (named The Bureau Chiefs) that includes freelance writers, librarians, attorneys, professors and reporters from all across the country who contribute to the feed daily. They only work from 8am – 6pm EST Monday through Friday, so after that, you don’t have to go home. Just stop refreshing their feed.
Here are some of my personal favorites (well, the ones that can be tied back to things we learned in J70, anyway):
— “Your” and “you’re” may be used interchangeably if you are an idiot.
— Affect is verb: “The songs of Liza Minnelli affected the crops.” Effect is noun: “Behold the effect Liza has on the corn!”
— Learnt, burnt, and earnt are acceptable only if the experience was painful. E.g., learnt = learned + hurt.
— Use the inverted pyramid structure for your story, as this pleases Apophis, the Egyptian god of darkness and chaos.
— You may use “that” instead of “who” if the person you’re referring to is also an object, like a coffee table.
— The passive voice should be avoided by you.
— Stories on the success of new media printed in traditional newspapers are no longer allowed out of respect for the dying.
So, if you ever become tired of flipping through your AP Stylebook to find the difference between rip off (v.) and rip-off (n. and adj.), try looking at the Fake AP Stylebook instead. And always remember proper newsroom etiquette.