Caustic reactions, pro and con, as AP opts to lowercase ‘Internet’

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 will occur in June as the 2016 Stylebook is published.

It’s the end of another era for communicators nationwide: The Associated Press has announced revisions for its 2016 Stylebook.

The “definitive resource for journalists, and a must-have reference for writers, editors, students and professionals” is putting 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 this past weekend.

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

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: White paper: 10 punctuation essentials.

In response to the AP’s announcement, 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 will include more than 240 new and modified entries, some of which have already been released to AP Stylebook Online subscribers. The changes will take effect when the new print edition of the Stylebook is published on June 1, the AP reports.

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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