Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Respect Is Earned, But Most Modern “Journalists” Wouldn’t Know It

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, March 6, 2023

Previously, I’d written about, and provided one example of, what I considered to be an exemplary model of poor journalistic practice — which is the failure to properly identify individuals quoted in stories by their academic/professional achievements, proper title, capitalization, organizational affiliation, and location, to which I added the practice of abbreviated (or not) states’ names.

There are at least TWO fundamental issues underlying the first matter, both of which can be boiled down to one, that one being respect:

1.) Respect for the individual whom is quoted and referenced in the story, most often only obliquely recognized as an authority or expert, and;

2.) Respect for the reader, the party whom is being informed by reading the story, and for whom the authors write.

Folks who earn PhD’s didn’t just have that terminal degree handed to them on a silver platter. They worked their hineys off for years to earn it. As a matter of fact, folks who earn ANY academic achievement didn’t have it handed to them on a silver platter. They had to WORK to EARN it.

And this is a corollary, though obliquely related matter, which is that when articles are written about, or mention, where folks earned their degrees, it’s often written as “so-and-so ‘received their degree,” at/from rather than “‘earned’ their degree” at/from. If someone gives you something (the word “give” has strong implication of a the thing being given as a “gift,” and a gift is a thing which is a thing NOT earned, and undeserved — “undeserved” as being the sense that something is not obtained by merit.

And so, when I entitled the subject line as “This Pisses Me Off,” it wasn’t about me, or my peccadilloes, it was about my concern for others, that others deserve respect which they’re NOT getting, as demonstrated by the way current journalistic practice exists.

And on the abbreviation of states’ names, AP (Associated Press) style guide practice is inconsistent, and states what, but NOT why, such abbreviations are used. For example, 8 states — Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas, Utah, including District of Columbia (see NOTE), and Puerto Rico — are never abbreviated. Why not? No one knows. AP style has some states using 2-letter abbreviations (ex. Ga., Ky., La., Md., Vt., etc.), some using 3-letter abbreviations (ex. Ala., Ark., Del., Fla., Nev., etc.) while yet others have 4-letter abbreviations (ex. Ariz., Conn., Minn., Mass., Miss., etc.), and there’s even a state with a 5-letter abbreviation (ex. Calif.). Then, to add insult to injury, there’s N.H., N.J. N.Y., N.C., R.I., S.C., S.D., and W.Va., etc.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) fixed that problem years ago with their standardized 2-letter state name abbreviations, which includes DC & PR (and others) which I would hope that most know by now.

NOTE: The AP Stylebook entry on Washington, DC reads as follows:

“In datelines Washington doesn’t take D.C. Generally use District of Columbia within a story only for official designations, such as local government names, or to avoid confusion with other localities of that name. Washington should be used in most story references to the U.S. capital because of the name recognition globally. Use Washington, D.C., with the added abbreviation only if the city might be confused with the state. Do not use D.C. standing alone other than in quotations. On second reference, the district is acceptable. Postal code: DC.”

So, even the venerable Associated Press acknowledges their inconsistency, albeit only obliquely.

A further note: In addition to the USPS, the ANSI (American National Standards Institute), ISO (International Organization for Standardization), the USCG (United States Coast Guard – with but 12 variants), and the GPO (U.S. Government Printing Office) all use the USPS two-letter abbreviations for states.

As usual, I’m eager to know your thoughts.

Have a good day.

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