recently wee bee not only went from part-time to full-time in the land of telling students how they are being screwed by financial “aid” (and explaining things to students which, though publicly accessible knowledge and therefore non-firing offenses, would make most in the industry cringe), but she also became a part-time student (longer story) and a staff writer for a newspaper.
the key word here is “staff.” what “staff” means for a newspaper is essential. a freelancer is afforded much more, well, freedom, than a staffer. a staffer must, at all times, uphold the mighty laws of AP style, otherwise known as:
while seemingly innocuous at first glance, this grand book of style (or basically, how to avoid it) is most likely the culprit behind newspapers going out of the biz. and don’t let the hoopla distract you — for those who claim that no press is unbiased are correct, and likewise, those who claim AP style turns amazing stories into sandpaper-like textbooks are also correct.
like any rules, those who want to get around them can, and do, and it is easily done. can’t write your own opinion directly into the story? no problem. find people with your opinion and give them a brilliant exposé.
essentially, the number one rule associated press style attempts to ingrain is an utter failure. what, then, does the style end up doing? turning the rest of the damned story into a style-less, class-less, grating piece of dung.
everything wee bee loves about writing is swiftly hammered down with the editor’s singing of AP style praises on high: uphold the journalistic laws! he crows. and wee bee manages to lose even more precious inches.
be unbiased! they say.
throw editorial writing out with contractions!
very boring, really. and quite unnecessary.
proper capitalization is very important. titles are important. passive voice is not to be tolerated, and neither is fancy writing that takes up space. mind your affect along with those p’s and q’s and word-count. absolutely no dashes. no puns.
honestly, wee bee is not sure if this can be considered writing at all. she understands the principles of journalism, but nobody minds them save for those going out of business — and even they are usually stretching things. this is why bloggers and the bill o’reilly’s and the stephen colbert’s are winning. excitement, opinion, and impressively used strings of wonderful words that move people.
so, do you want to save the news? then fuck associated press.