Mixing Up Dates

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From the AP Style Tips:

"Every article in the paper should handle dates the same way.

 

The contest begins Wednesday, Nov. 19, after which…

 

·         Note commas on either side of the month and date.

·         Never abbreviate the day of the week.

·         If you aren’t mentioning a specific date, spell out the name of the month."

 

        I know that when I wrote my obituary, I did this wrong.  Who would ever think that there is a correct way to properly represent the date?  I don’t really know why it is necessary to abbreviate the month, after all the unabbreviated months (August, September, October, November, December, January, February) are just as important as the unabbreviated ones (March, April, May, June, July).  The longest month is only nine letters long.  It’s not like it takes up that much room.  It just seems sensible that you’d treat all of the months the same way; if you abbreviate one month, you abbreviate them all or if you don’t abbreviate one month, you shouldn’t abbreviate the rest.  This just makes me think of linguistics.  These rules were just created by some people sitting around a table deciding what is and is not standard for our language/writing.  But regardless of my personal beliefs, this is the way it is.  Now that I wrote about it, I think I may remember it.

 

As for the examples, this is what’s wrong with them.

Assistant News Editor, Anne O'Nymous read the article. 

·         There shouldn’t be a comma between Anne O’Nymous and her title or, of course, it could be like this, “Anne O’Nymous, the assistant news editor, read the article.”

She was highly appreciated by Jameson for solving the problem. "I really appreciate her work ethic and problem-solving ability," said Jameson.

·         The first sentence isn’t necessary.  The journalist does not need to state it, just use the quote.

Spunky Inkworthy has only written for The Setonian this year, but Obituaries Editor, Lazarus O'Mortigan, was very complimentary towards Spunky's contributions.

·         There are multiple things wrong with this.  Again, there shouldn’t be a comma between Obituaries Editor and Lazarus O’Mortigan.  Also, saying that O’Mortigan was complimentary is telling.  Instead of this sentence, there should just be a quote.  Something like “Obituaries Editor Lazarus O’Mortigan said, “Spunky is the most talented writer I’ve ever seen.  I strive to be more like him” would be better.

In a telephone call from Head Librarian Marian Paroo, she discussed Inkworthy's contributions.

·         This is a mess.  I’m not even sure what is trying to be communicated here.  I’m assuming that the journalist contacted the head librarian and got information.  The journalist would not need to discuss, and should not discuss, how the information was acquired.  For the rest, it is just like the previous example following the who said it and what they said format.

"Here is a quote", said Bill Jones freshman.

·         I’m pretty sure that the journalist here was Yoda.  It’s just common sense to not quote the phrase “Here is a quote.”  Also, the comma belongs inside the quotes.  An adequate quote should be found and then it would be as follows: “Quote,” said freshman Bill Jones.

 

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2 Comments

Josie Rush said:

Yeah, I definitely complained about the date rule in my blog, too. I'm not sure that a lot of the rules serve any purpose aside from the desire for uniformity, which is admittedly important...it just doesn't do much to liven up the reputation of journalism.

Greta Carroll said:

Well, I’m guessing that the people in charge sitting around their round table opted for the abbreviations because in news writing every single letter counts. I mean, they have a certain amount of space to fill and that’s it. So by going with the abbreviations they free up a little more room (although, if that is the case, why not abbreviate the days of the week too?) Regardless whether there is any logic behind it whatsoever, there does need to be some sort of unified system so that news writers do things consistently to some agree. I do agree with you about your comment relating this to Linguistics and the arbitrariness of it all though.

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