This I Must Accept—Rules are Rules for a Reason

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I was annoyed because I was wrong.  I used “says” in my peer profile and not “said.”  In all actuality, I did use “said” the first time I wrote it.  Then as I was revising it before I turned it in to Google documents, I remembered that news articles are meant to seem immediate so that they seem more real and important to the reader, so I went back through and changed them to “says.”  Then we went over the copyediting tips and it said to use “said.”  Therefore, I fumed over the contradictory nature of news writing. 

Just as I was beginning to get over it, I read Angela’s blog.  She commented, “These rules were just created by some people sitting around a table deciding what is and is not standard for our language/writing.”  This got me thinking, who did make these rules exactly and who made them the experts?

A few blogs later, I read Josie’s blog.  She wrote, “One reason for the necessity of AP Style procedures is uniformity.”  Now, I did realize this.  I knew what the rules were for and why they were created, but sometimes I just need a little reminder.  The rules do exist for a purpose and some of them even actually make sense.  Using Angela’s relation to Linguistics, there is no reason that words should be spelled how they are other than that we decided they would be spelled that way.  However, if we had no decided on a “correct” spelling things would be much more confusing.  These news writing rules can be viewed the same way.  Sure, we could do many things in different manners, but it would be much more confusing if we did not have a set way to do it.     


 

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1 Comments

Great points, Greta. One reason I'm extending the revision deadline for the peer profile is precisely because you're encountering these rules for the first time now.

TV news would use "says," because the strength of TV is to make you feel you part of something that is happening now. But news that takes the form of the written word recognizes that it takes time to write about something, so that you can only write about something that's happened in the past. Thus, we use the past tense.

There are good arguments for using the present tense, so you shouldn't feel bad about making a decision that differs from AP style. I'm not indicating that AP style is the only way to write, just as MLA is not the only citation style, and apple pie is not the only desert.

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