AP makes its (lower)case for internet and web

From fervent denunciations to a tacit ‘What took you so long?’ the online cadre of editors and PR pros are chiming in on the shift, which is in effect today, as the 2016 Stylebook publishes.

Ding-dong: The 2016 AP Stylebook tolls.

If you’re using a 2015 AP Stylebook, you’re a year behind, and if you’ve capitalized internet at some point today, you’ve already made an error.

So says The Associated Press in its 2016 Stylebook revisions, effective today.

The “definitive resource for journalists, and a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals” has put a decades-long debate to rest with one seemingly simple shift:

Associated Press editors made this change—and several others—known in their review of the 2016 Stylebook at the ACES conference in April.

Editors, reporters and PR pros tweeted a mixed bag of reactions to the initial announcement. Here’s a sampling:

Since the announcement, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune have jumped on board.

Tribune
editors alerted employees to the change in an internal email.

“A reminder that effective Wednesday, June 1, we will begin lowercasing “internet,” as well as “web” for the shortened form of World Wide Web (which remains uppercase),” it read. “Our change complies with a change in AP style that takes effect that day.”

So far today, many Twitter users expressed their contentment with the AP’s decision. From celebratory cakes to exclamation points galore, here’s a roundup of reactions from the first day of lowercasing internet:

A slew of digital newsrooms—Buzzfeed, Vox, Quartz, The Verge, Gawker—chose years ago to go against the AP style grain in not obeying the formality of capitalizing the tech term.

Here’s how the head of U.S. English Dictionaries’ at Oxford University Press explained the Internet’s red tape to the New Republic in 2015:

We use “the” when we talk about the internet, and that perpetuates the usage of the uppercase. It’s the difference between an internet and the Internet. The word’s origins date back to the 1970s, when an “inter-network” was just a collection of smaller networks that communicated using the same protocols. Functionally, the internet of today is just the largest example of an internet—which, incidentally, means that the word entered our vocabulary in lowercase.

Now—as such has happened with many conventional wisdoms in the internet age—the general thinking has changed.

RELATED: How to create an intranet that employees will love (free download).

In response to the AP’s shift, here’s how The Verge described initially lowercasing the term:

The idea of treating internet as a proper noun came about from the beginning of internet communications. As some argue, the distinction is that the internet we know and use today is just one internet out of many possible internets. It just so happens that the internet we use is also called the internet. It’s like the Sun that we orbit and the sun of another planetary system.

The 2016 AP Stylebook includes nearly 250 new and modified entries.

Here are a few other noteworthy style changes—highlighted by Thomas Kent, the AP’s standards editor:

exponential growth : Used when something has grown by increasing amounts. For instance, a population might increase by 5 percent from 1980 to 1990, 10 percent from 1990 to 2000 and 15 percent from 2000 to 2010. Not simply a synonym for a large increase.

accident, crash : Generally acceptable for automobile and other collisions and wrecks. However, when negligence is claimed or proven, avoid accident, which can be read by some as a term exonerating the person responsible. In such cases, use crash, collision or other terms. See collide, collision.

L: The name of the Chicago train system. Not El.

mescal : Clear liquor from Mexico made from a variety of agave plants.

normcore : A fashion trend that combines “normal” and “hardcore” and is characterized by unpretentious, unisex, average dressing.

What do you think of the changes, Ragan readers? Will you adjust your “house style” to reflect the AP’s?

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