The Body of a News Story, Quotations and Attributions as Portrayed in The New York Times

By Imman Merdanovic

Having a good central point is essential for writing an engaging news story. However, presenting the body of the story in a clear and concise manner is what truly gives it the power.  After introducing the story in a one or two sentence lead which serves as a brief summary of the most important information, the reporters ought to further build up the content through the body of a news story.

The body of a news story is simply the portion of a story that follows the lead and answers the question of when? where? and how? the given event happened (Bender et all., 2012, p. 242). In order to be able to build up a good story, it is necessary to have a good lead. The stronger the foundation, the more information it is able to support.

There are numerous ways in which reporters can write the body of a news story. The most common styles are the inverted pyramid style, the hourglass style, the focus style and the narrative style (Bender et all., 2012, p. 251).  Having a set framework within which to build a story makes it easier for reporters to write in a clear and concise manner and, most importantly, to meet deadlines.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Capitol Hill in October. Photo Credit, Zach Gibson via The New York Times.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Capitol Hill in October. Photo Credit, Zach Gibson via The New York Times.

Moreover, apart from following a given framework for writing the body of a news story, reporters also need to follow a set of guidelines for properly using quotations and attributions. Every idea that does not directly come from the reporter needs to be properly attributed and presented in a coherent way.

To see how the reporters of The New York Times write the body of a news story and use quotations and attributions, I have analyzed three articles which the newspaper published on Feb. 29, 2016. First, I look into the style that the authors have used to write their stories. Then I look at the use of quotations and attributions in these stories, with a special focus on their effectiveness and the ability to emphasize a point or change pace.

The featured articles are:

Breeden’s article on the migrant protests in France uses the inverted-pyramid style to present the body of the news story. As explained in Bender et all., inverted-pyramid stories present information in descending order of importance of newsworthiness (Bender et all., 2012, p. 242).

In the case of inverted-pyramid style, the lead  is followed by the second paragraph which answers the questions when? where? how? and why? The third paragraph normally describes the event in more details and is followed by paragraphs explaining factual background and/or a short summary (Bender et all., 2012, p. 243). The advantage of the inverted-pyramid style is that it allows the reader to stop reading at any point, while still retaining enough information (Bender et all., 2012, p. 247).

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Breeden begins the story with a clear one-sentence lead explaining who did what, followed by the second paragraph which explains how the incident happened. The following paragraphs provide more details on the migrant crisis and the reasons for the protests. Finally, the story ends with  statistical data explaining how many migrants live in the camp and how the camp imposes a threat for the EU security. The story concludes by briefly mentioning the upcoming meeting between President François Hollande and Prime Minister David Cameron.

Hence, Breeden’s story is clear, concise and effective, allowing the reader to stop reading at any point. It presents information in order of importance and newsworthiness and serves as a classical example of an inverted-pyramid style.

On the contrary, Steinhauer’s article on presidential elections uses the narrative style to tell the story. According to Bender et all., the narrative style consists of a story and a storyteller and requires a good deal of observation (Bender et all., 2012, p.251).  This approach allows the reporter to capture any drama involved and creatively express the story through the use of dialogues, chronology, quotes and actions (Bender et all., 2012, p.251).

In fact, Steinhauer starts the story with an alternative lead and then develops the story so that it comes across as a debate between those who support Bernie Sanders and those who support Hilary Clinton. The story depicts politicians interacting with each other and their actions and opinions are described in vivid details. The last paragraph best portrays the narrative style as it ends by describing the main actors’ troublesome interaction:

Migrants lit shacks on fire to protest their eviction from a camp near Calais, France. Photo Credits, Laurent Dubrule/European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.
Some migrants lit shacks on fire on Monday to protest their eviction from “the Jungle,” a camp near Calais, France. Photo Credit, Laurent Dubrule, European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.

“Like his colleagues, Mr. Cardin said he bore Mr. Sanders no grudge, especially since Mr. Sanders does not appear to be much of an impediment to Mrs. Clinton’s expected romp through Super Tuesday this week. “His campaign has been electrifying to the process,” he said” (Steinhauer, J.).

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Finally, Scott’s article on   Trans-Atlantic data transfer deal is an example of an inverted-pyramid style. The story begins with an effective lead, followed by a number of paragraph each listing information in order of importance. The story provides details on the E.U. and U.S. previous data transfer deals and the logistics of the current deal, and concludes by introducing an upcoming meeting.

Moreover, the use of quotations and attributions is rather interesting in the articles analyzed.

According to Bender et all., quotations and attributions should always be used when presenting an idea that does not directly come from the reporter. Those can be incorporated as direct quotes, indirect quotes, or partial quotations (Bender et all., 2012, p. 280).

Direct quotes are used to present someone’s exact words, while indirect quotes are used in paraphrasing and, hence do not require quotation marks. Partial quotes directly quote certain phrases, but paraphrase others (Bender et all., 2012, p. 280).

Attributions give credits to those whose ideas were used in texts, and allow the readers to see the reporter’s sources. Anything that is not considered common knowledge, direct and indirect quotes, controversial statements and opinions need to be attributed (Bender et all., 2012, p. 286).

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While Breeden correctly attributes statements of opinion in the form of direct quotes “The destruction of the shantytown is not the solution,” Mr. Guennoc said, he neglects the rules outlined in Bender et all. by overusing so-called orphan quotes. An isolated word or two in quotation marks is considered an orphan quote (Bender et all., 2012, p. 282).

For example: Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said last week that the authorities would not conduct a “brutal evacuation” of the camp (Breeden, A.).

  Additionally, Breeden also correctly paraphrases others’ statement in the form of indirect quotes:

“A judge in Lille said last week that the plans could go ahead, but stopped short of authorizing a leveling of the camp, ruling that the makeshift restaurants, places of worship and other community areas would have to remain untouched” (Breeden, A.). 

However, he continues to use orphan quotes such as “extremist activists” of “intimidating” migrants.

Google devices on display at an electronics store in London. Photo Credit, Andrew Cowie, European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.
Google devices on display at an electronics store in London. Photo Credit, Andrew Cowie, European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.

The use of quotes is effective in Breeden’s case and serves the purpose of enriching the point of the story, however the overuse of orphan quotes may be very distracting for the reader.

Furthermore, Steinhauer also demonstrates proper use of direct quotations, and remembers not to place double attribution when continuing the quotation in the same paragraph:

“It’s totally positive. It is not negative toward anyone else,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, an early endorser of Mrs. Clinton. “That’s the difference between our side and theirs. Also, don’t forget many of us did serve with Hillary in the Senate, so there’s a lot of history there” (Steinhauer, J.).

Steinhauer does not use orphan quotes, but lacks the use of indirect quotes. Because of this, the story seems like a long list of direct quotes and is somewhat complicated and possibly boring for an average reader. The sentences tend to be long and the quotation marks overused, thus defeating the original purpose of quotation marks to refresh the story and create contrast.

Finally, Scott demonstrates possibly the most effective use of quotations out of the three authors. Quotations, in this case, are used sparingly and effectively, with only one use of orphan quote. The article ends with a direct quote, in a rather dramatic way, which triggers the reader to think more about a much larger issue presented here:

“We need ways to check that this works” (Scott, M.).

In conclusion, the three articles analyzed followed certain rules on quotation and attribution as outlined in Bender et all., and deviated from others. They were all written in a slightly different way, not necessarily all following one specific style for writing the body of a news story. This may be explained by the fact that these stories come from different sections of The New York Times, and so a more complicated style was used to depict a business story as opposed to a world story. Nonetheless, the stories provide a good insight into how theoretical knowledge presented in Bender et all. is translated and used in practice.

Work cited:

Fedler, F., Bender, J. R., Davenport, L., & Drager, M. W. (2010). Reporting for the Media. Oxford University Press, USA.

Breeden, A. “France Faces Protests as It Dismantles ‘Jungle’ Migrant Camp.” February 29, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/world/europe/france-faces-protests-as-it-dismantles-jungle-migrant-camp.html?ref=world

Photo Credits, Dubrule, L. “Some migrants lit shacks on fire on Monday to protest their eviction from “the Jungle,” a camp near Calais, France.” European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.

Photo Credits, Cowie, A. “Google devices on display at an electronics store in London.” European Pressphoto Agency via The New York Times.

 Photo Credits, Gibson, Z. “Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Capitol Hill in October.”  via The New York Times.

Steinhauer, J. “Bernie Sanders Stands Alone as Hillary Clinton Gains Senate Endorsements.” February 29, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/29/us/politics/bernie-sanders-stands-alone-as-hillary-clinton-gains-senate-endorsements.html?ref=politics

Thomas, K. “Valeant Pharmaceuticals Is Under S.E.C. Investigation.” February 29, 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/01/business/valeant-pharmaceuticals-is-under-sec-investigation.html

The News Leads As Portrayed in The New York Times

By Imman Merdanovic

Capturing a reader’s attention within the first few lines of a story has been a challenge that even the most experienced journalists still battle at times. To arouse a reader’s interest and tell the story in the most effective, organized and concise way possible, it is necessary for journalists to start their stories with an effective lead. The lead is an introductory sentence which summarizes the central point of the story and conveys the most important details of the featured event.

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Every news story must answer six questions: Who? How? Where? Why? When? and What? The lead, being the most important part of a story, should however not answer all of them. Instead, the lead should answer only one or two questions that are most newsworthy and unusual (Bender et all., 2012, p. 187).

To write effective leads, reporters need to be specific, concise, and to emphasize the story’s most important and unexpected developments. It is in the reporters’ interest to emphasize a story’s magnitude and to eliminate statements of opinion. A well-written lead should consist of simple, short sentences with active verbs and a simple sentence structure: subject-verb-object (Bender et all., 2012, p. 187). Agendas, label leads, lists and exaggeration are off-limits.

However, should  journalists find a story to be particularly creative and unique, they are permitted to use “soft leads”, in other words, begin with a story’s most interesting details— often an anecdote, description, quotation or question. Stories that begin with a soft lead have a nut paragraph immediately after the lead, which states the central point of the story and serves some of the same functions as the summary news read (Bender et all., 2012, pp. 223-224).

To examine to use of leads in The New York Times and see to what extent its reporters follow the rules of writing effective news leads, as outlined in Bender et all, I have analyzed three articles which the newspaper published  on Feb. 15, 2016. First, I look into whether the leads are simple summary leads or alternative, “soft leads”. Then I look into whether the lead itself is concise. Finally, I examine the use of strong, active verbs.

The featured articles are:

Afghan farmers harvested poppies last spring in the Nad Ali district of Helmand Province. Photo Credits, Bryan Denton via The New York Times.
Afghan farmers harvested poppies last spring in the Nad Ali district of Helmand Province. Photo Credits, Bryan Denton via The New York Times.

The news of Van Munching’s death was effectively captured by Bruce Weber in a summary lead:

“Leo Van Munching Jr., whose stewardship of the importing company started by his father made the Dutch-brewed beer Heineken and its low-calorie sibling, Amstel Light, familiar brand names in the United States, died on Sunday at his home in Darien, Conn. He was 89” (Weber, B.).

This particular lead is a summary lead which outlines the essence of the story— the fact that the empire builder for Heineken died. The lead answers the question who? what? when? and where? While the reader is able to grasp the news within the first few lines, this particular lead seems somewhat redundant in its long description of Van Munching’s profession, as well as in mentioning Van Munching’s father and the relation of their brand to the United States.

 Azam starts his story on the Afghan opium with an alternative lead that introduces the most important point and the issue later on in the story. For that matter, this lead could be classified both as a “buried” or “delayed” lead and a suspenseful lead:

“The United States spent more than $7 billion in the past 14 years to fight the runaway poppy production that has made Afghan opium the world’s biggest brand. Tens of billions more went to governance programs to stem corruption and train a credible police force. Countless more dollars and thousands of lives were lost on the main thrust of the war: to put the Afghan government in charge of district centers and to instill rule of law” ( Azam, A.).

Typical to delayed leads, a nut graph— in this case the fourth paragraph— summarizes the story and provides a transition to the body (Bender et all., 2012, p. 225). Similarly, there is a certain dose of suspension in the paragraph, which aims to arouse  readers’ curiosity and raise a question in their minds (Bender et all., 2012, p. 228).Finally, Gladstone also uses an alternative, descriptive lead and only reveals the most important information in the second paragraph:

“It was supposed to be a routine refueling stop in Zimbabwe by an American-owned cargo plane, traveling to South Africa from Germany. Then airport officials noticed blood spattered on the fuselage and found a corpse and a small fortune in South African cash inside” (Gladstone, R.). In this case, the descriptive details paint a picture for the reader and summarize the story before moving gradually into the action (Bender et all., 2012, p. 228).

Furthermore, the concise style of writing makes it easier for a reader to comprehend leads, and essentially the whole story. It is best to use one-sentence leads,  because two-or three-sentence leads often become wordy, repetitious and choppy, thus harder to understand (Bender et all.,  2012, p. 190). According to Bender et all., the average number of words in most The New York Times leads is 33.0, yet many readers find  a 25-word lead “difficult” to read and a 29-word lead “very difficult” (Bender et all., 2012, p. 190).

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Weber, in her article on Van Munching, uses 40 words in the lead. She mentions Van Munching’s father, the relation of their brand to the United States, and then introduces a whole new sentence to bring about his age— all which could have been eliminated. Munching’s father clearly did not play a major role in the story. Hence, this particular lead, according to the rules of Bender et all., may not be particularly concise.

Azam’s lead consists of 74 words distributed across two sentences. However, this is an example of a suspended lead and an exception to the rules, as such. The lead could be more concise, thus helping  the readers, not making them work harder. Gladstone’s lead consists of 37 words and only one sentence, hence making it much easier to understand, even though the central point of the story is introduced later on, thus affecting the consistency.

Needless is to say that all three leads are significantly longer than what an average reader is able to comprehend with ease. However, we need to remember that The New York Times is written for a more highly educated audience, and thus likely to be comprehendible to them.

In addition, the use of strong, active verbs is required, as they paint a vivid picture of the scene in reader’s minds. They capture the drama and emotion of a news event (Bender et all., 2012, p. 191). Similarly, active verbs should always be used instead of passive verbs, as they help the reader understand the impact of the story better (Bender et all., 2012, p. 192).

For example, Weber uses a strong verb “died” to explain what happened to Munching, however fails to use active verb when saying “whose stewardship of the importing company started by his father.”  Azam uses verbs such as “spent, fight, train”, however forgets to use active verbs in saying “thousands of lives were lost.” Gladstone makes his lead relatively simple and only uses active verbs “noticed blood” and “found a corpse.”

In conclusion, the three leads analyzed above may not stand as the best examples of effective leads, at least according to the rules of Bender et all. However the three leads analyzed here are great examples of the ways reporters can play around with the content of a story to create a dramatic, engaging opening. 

Work Cited:

Azam, A. “Tasked With Combating Opium, Afgan Officials Profit From It.” February 15, 2016. The New York Times.http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/world/asia/afghanistan-opium-heroin-taliban-helmand.html

Gladstone, R. “U.S.-Owned Place Carrying Corpse and Cash Is Impounded in Zimbabwe.” February 15, 2016. The New York Times.  “http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/world/africa/us-owned-plane-carrying-corpse-and-cash-is-impounded-in-zimbabwe.html

Fedler, F., Bender, J. R., Davenport, L., & Drager, M. W. (2010). Reporting for the Media. Oxford University Press, USA.

Photo Credits, Denton, B. “Afghan farmers harvested poppies last spring in the Nad Ali district of Helmand Province. ” February 15, 2016. The NY Times.

Weber, B. “Leo Van Munching Jr., Empire Builder For Heineken, Dies at 89.”February 15, 2016. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/16/business/leo-van-munching-jr-empire-builder-for-heineken-dies-at-89.html

Newswriting Style as Portrayed in The New York Times

By Imman Merdanovic

In order for journalists to write effective stories and appeal to a wide audience, it is necessary that they follow a carefully designed newswriting style— that which allows for factual information to be presented briefly and in a fair, objective manner (Bender et all. 53). Identifying the central point and creating a brief outline from the skeleton of the story are some of the key stages of prewriting a story. According to the newswriting style, once reporters gather their ideas in a coherent, concise manner, it is their job to, ideally, create a story that presents short, familiar words, as well as short sentences and paragraphs that focus on a single idea.

Moreover, they are expected to refrain from using unnecessary words, as well as from overloading sentences, in order to make sure their stories are understandable to all, regardless of their educational background. Lastly, reporters ought to avoid statements of opinion, as well as stereotyping.

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To see to what extent the editors of The New York Times follow the newswriting  style, I have analyzed three articles which were published in The Times on February 5, 2016. Among others, I have focused on the authors’ ability to avoid sexism, as well as complicated words, and to overload sentences with multiple ideas. Finally, I look into the elements of a good story and the overall news selection process as described by Bender et all, and the extent to which The New York Times reporters follow these guidelines. The featured articles are: 1) “N.F.L. Addresses Gender Gap in Hiring” by Ken Belson; 2) “Seeing a Business Opportunity for Firms’ Outside Overseers” by Alexandra Stevenson and 3) “The Evil Queen Lands a Gig at the Kit Kat Club” by Brian Seibert.

Laura Careless, center, and other members of Company XIV in “Snow White” at the Minetta Lane Theater. Photo Credit, Andrea Mohin via The New York Times.
Laura Careless, center, and other members of Company XIV in “Snow White” at the Minetta Lane Theater. Photo Credits, Andrea Mohin via The New York Times.

Journalists have opinions and biases as do other people, but it is their goal to remain as impartial and objective as possible.The tendency for the reporters to identify with sources is natural, but good reporters strive to resist the temptation and to keep their stories free of opinion (Bender et all, p. 57). Register who covered a Marine company during the Iraqi War said: “The biggest problem I faced as an embed with the Marine grunts was that I found myself doing what journalists are warned from J-school not to do: i found myself falling in love with my subject” (Bender et all. p. 57). Typical, among others, are the “ISMS”— racism, sexism, ageism— that can appear in a story even unintentionally.

Sexism is still a prominent issue, as in the past news stories identifies women only as wives, mothers and sex objects. Nowadays, more women than ever are employed and hold high positions of responsibility. The Associated Press Stylebook recommends journalists avoid awkward or contrived words, such as “chairperson”. Instead, the stylebook advises using “chairwoman” or “spokeswoman” when referring to a woman. When appropriate, the stylebook advises using a neutral word such as “leader”  (Bender et all, p. 58).

In her article “Seeing a Business Opportunity for Firms’ Outside Overseers”, Stevenson illustrates this rule by correctly saying “Ms. White, now chairwoman” and “Tiffany Moller, the assistant deputy commissioner and chief of compliance” Moreover, Stevenson Properly titles all involved: “Mary Jo White, the former United States attorney, thus avoiding identifying the woman by her relationship with a man, who was previously mentioned in the article (Stevenson, A.).

Similarly, Belson follows the rule by saying: “His wife, jane Skinner Goodall; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.” Likewise, Belson avoids writing about a woman differently from the way in which a man is written: “Lisa Friel, a former prosecutor.” However, because of the nature of the article  titled “N.F.L Addresses Gender Gap in Hiring”, Belson puts an emphasis on the fact that the N.F.L., for the first time, hired its “full time female referee, Sarah Thomas”, thus deviating from the rule (Belson, K.). Reporters are strongly discouraged from using the words “female” in places where you would not use the words “male”, yet Belson is making a special point here that is likely to be justified.

Moreover, Seibert, in his article “The Evil Queen Lands a Gig at the Kit Kat Club” mentions that the Queen was played by the actor-dancer Laura Careless, thus remembering to use a unisex substitute, as indicted in Bender et all.

Furthermore, one survey found that 75 percent of readers were able to understand sentences containing an average of 20 words, but understanding dropped rapidly as the sentences became longer(Bender et all, p. 53). Reporters tend to use complicated words in places where the simplest word would be sufficient and in sentences that could be as short as six words.

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And while Stevenson manages to keep the paragraphs short and coherent, the use of words such as chokehold, maneuver, beefed up, scrutiny, coveted and compliance might lessen ones ability to fully understand her text. On the contrary, Belson uses very simple words and phrases, however tends to overload her sentences with ideas and write longer paragraphs:

“The announcement — in front of a group that included his wife, Jane Skinner Goodell; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; the tennis champion Billie Jean King and others — came at the N.F.L.’s first Women’s Summit, days before the Super Bowl on Sunday and in the wake of a series of domestic violence cases involving some of its biggest stars that threw the league into crisis last year.” (Belson, K.)

This paragraph introduces the members of the group, the Super Bowl, and domestic violence, thus forgetting to address one idea per paragraph,

Lastly, Seibert uses both longer paragraphs with structured ideas and very hard words, which clearly only appeal to cultured audience: relish, leer, decadent, marquee, protégée, supplant, cavort, pastiche, devoid. However, according to Bender et all, The New York Times appeals to a wealthier, better educated audience, hence the cluttered wording.

Finally, Bender et all identify the following elements as making a good story: timeliness, impact, prominence, proximity, unusualness, drama, humor and conflict or controversy. Seibert’s story about the evil queen certainly radiates the unusualness, as well as humor and controversy. Belson’s story about N.F.L. encompasses impact, proximity and timeliness. Finally, Stevenson’s story about a business opportunity addresses timeliness, impact and unusualness.

In conclusion, the three stories analyzed both follow certain rules and deviate from others. For the most part, they stick to the rule addressing sexism, yet use complicated words which cannot always appeal to all. The paragraphs tend to be longer and contain multiple ideas, which are often hard to grasp. Yet, it is necessary to keep in mind that this is The New York Times, hence the reporters assume that the audience is likely to be more educated and more familiar with somewhat redundant phrases.

Work Cited:

Belson, K., “N.F.L. Addresses Gender Gap in Hiring.” (February 5, 2016). The New York Times.

Fedler, F., Bender, J. R., Davenport, L., & Drager, M. W. (2010). Reporting for the Media. Oxford University Press, USA.

Photo Credits, Mohin, A. Center, and other members of Company XIV in “Snow White” at the Minetta Lane Theater via Laura Careless, The New York Times.

Seibert, B., “The Evil Queen Lands a Gig at the Kit Kat Club.” (February 5, 2016). The New York Times

Stevenson, A., “Seeing a Business Opportunity for Firm’s Outside Overseers.” (February 5, 2016). The New York Times.

The New York Times within the framework of the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook

   By Imman Merdanovic

Being a journalist entails ones ability not only to write well, but also to ensure that the information presented is both accurate and error-free. Introducing modern typewriters opened up a world of possibilities to current and emerging journalists, and brought to life an entirely new side of journalism— that to which many of us refer as digital. However, even so, a good piece of writing requires accuracy and a recognizable format through which reporters and editors can communicate with each other.

To minimize the flaws and ensure that all journalists follow the same rules, most news organizations have adopted The Associated Press Stylebook, which lists hundreds of rules, presented in alphabetical order, for abbreviations, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, spelling and word usage (Bender et all, p. 11). Following a nationally accepted stylebook, they found, is less expensive, more consistent, and much easier(Bender et all, p. 11). Having no rules, or, worse yet, having multiple different rules, would cause many more errors and discrepancies, thus lowering the credibility of journalism as a discipline.

Over the years the stylebook has grown to include information necessary for journalists, such as guidelines for the Internet, sports and business, media law and photo captions. A few newspapers such as The New York Times have published stylebook of their own (Bender et all, p. 12).

Following a nationally accepted stylebook, they found, is less expensive, more consistent, and much easier.

To see to what extent the editors of The New York Times follow the AP stylebook, I have analyzed three articles which were published in The Times on February 1, 2016. Among others, I have focused on abbreviations, capitalizations and numerals, with a brief overview of the titles. The featured articles are: 1) “Trump Delivers a Flurry Of Flattery to Iowans To Try to Seal the Deal” by Maggie Habermas and Thomas Kaplan; 2) “Stockholm Police Foil an Anti-Immigrant Attack” by Christina Anderson, and 3) “Some Restaurants in China Caught Spiking Food With Poppy Capsules” by Edward Wong.

Demonstrators in Stockholm express their disapproval of an anti-immigration movement. Photo Credits, Marcus Ericsson/Tt News Agency, via The New York Times.
Demonstrators in Stockholm express their disapproval of an anti-immigration movement. Photo Credits, Marcus Ericsson/Tt News Agency, via The New York Times.

Abbreviations are simply defined as shortened versions of words. The names of the following eight states should never be abbreviated: : Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Utah (Bender et all, p. 11). Habermas and Kaplan, hence, do a good job here in refraining to abbreviate Iowa, and remembering to keep an elongated version of Mississippi and Missouri as, in this case, they refer to the rivers.

Moreover, the stylebook strictly advises against abbreviating assistant, association, attorney, building, district, government, president, professor, superintendent or the days of the week (AP stylebook). For example, “Professor Denice Bealle, a member of the journalism department… ” (Bender et all, p. 15). Not surprisingly, all three articles seem to have satisfied this rule. More precisely, Wong mentions: “Provincial governments and leaders of the warring Kuomintang Communist parties.” (Wong, E.)

Similarly,  Anderson’s article clearly states days of the week: “A station chief with the Stockholm City Police, said on Sunday that the police had received a tip on Friday.” (Anderson, C). In addition, Haberman’s and Kaplan’s article states: “The Tea Party favorite and former vice-presidential nominee”, thus satisfying the abbreviation rule (Haberman and Kaplan).

Furthermore, the AP Stylebook advises to avoid unnecessary capitals. It requires capitalization of nationalities, races and tribes (AP stylebook). For example: “It is no secret that fans of Chinese food often find it addictive” (Wong, E). It also requires capitalization of proper nouns, such as the Missouri River. In addition, it requires capitalization of formal titles when used immediately before a name: Mayor, Chairman, former President Bill Clinton (AP Stylebook). Habermas and Kaplan do a good job here in saying that “Senator Ted Cruz” (Haberman, Kaplan).

Additionally, the AP stylebook advises capitalizing both the name of a political party and the word party: the Democratic Party, as well as capitalizing Communist, Conservative, Republican, but lowercase the common noun elements of all names in plural uses: the Democratic and Republican parties (AP stylebook). Wong follows the rule in saying,  “Leaders of the warring Kuomintang and Communist parties” (Wong, E.). Habermas and Kaplan follow the rule, too: “A Democratic objective that Republicans hate” and “Closing message to Iowa Republicans” (Haberman and Kaplan).  

Likewise, in terms of writing government-related names, the stylebook requires capitalizing city, county, state and federal when part of a formal name and also capitalize city council, county commission, city hall, police department, legislature, assembly and all other names for governmental agencies when part of a proper name (AP Stylebook). For example, “In Council Bluffs”, “Mr. Arpaio, the sheriff of Maricopa County” (Haberman and Kaplan). Similarly, “the Stockholm City Police” and “the Swedish Migration Agency” also follow the rule (Anderson, C).

Lastly, “the Ministry of Public Security” from Wong’s article is another such example. The AP stylebook also requires capitalization of the U.S. Senate, which Habermas and Kaplan do well: “His 2012 campaign for the Senate” (Haberman and Kaplan). Buildings and rooms also need to be capitalized: the Empire State Building (AP stylebook). “Central Station in Sweeden and “First Christian Orchard Campus” are good examples of how Anderson and Haberman-Kaplan duo follow this particular rule.

Moreover, the general use for the numerals is to spell out whole numbers below 10, and to use figures for 10 and above (Bender et all).  Anderson satisfies the rule by mentioning that three people were arrested, yet more than 35,000 unaccompanied minors sought asylum (Anderson, C). Wong agrees in saying: “More than 20 types” and “In 2014, three central governments” (Wong, E).

 Similarly, “the 32 Caucasian youths” and “A degree within five years” also satisfy the rule (Bender et all, p.15). Additionally, the AP stylebook advises lowercasing centuries and spell out numbers less than 10: the first century, as showed in Wong’s article “In the 18th and the 19th centuries…” (Wong, E). As for dollars, the stylebook requires using figures and the $ sign, but for amounts of more than $1 million, it is necessary to use the $ sign and numerals up to two decimal places (AP Stylebook). Haberman and Kaplan perfectly capture this: “$1 million”, and so does Wong “$455”.

As for fractions, those should be spelled out amounts less than one, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds (AP Stylebook). Anderson does it well in saying that about two-thirds of the migrants arrived in the last few months (Anderson, C).

Lastly, the AP Stylebook states that formal titles that appear directly before a name are capitalized: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yet, if the title comes after a name or is alone, then it should be lowercase and spelled out (AP Stylebook). Haberman and Kaplan do this well in saying “He has campaigned alongside Sheriff Joe Arpaio..” and later “Mr. Arpaio, the sheriff” (Haberman and Kaplan).

Therefore, having carefully analyzed the above texts and the frameworks within which they fit the AP Stylebook rules, I conclude that the authors have done a great job following the guidelines. It was incredible to see the extent to which the rules have been followed. In fact, I did not find a single discrepancy in their writing and I am quite pleased and with the outcome.

Work Cited:

Anderson, C., ” Stockholm Police Foil an Anti-Immigrant Attack.”(February 1st, 2016). The New York Times. 

Fedler, F., Bender, J. R., Davenport, L., & Drager, M. W. (2010). Reporting for the Media. Oxford University Press, USA.

Goldstein, N. (2006). AP Associated Press stylebook and briefing on media law. Associated Pr.

Haberman, M., Kaplan, T. “Trump Delivers a Flurry Of Flattery to Iowans To Try to Seal the Devil.” (February 1st, 2016). The New York Times.

Wong, E. “Some Restaurans in China Caught Spiking Food With Poppy Capsules.” (February 1st, 2016). The New York Times.