The other day I wrote a post that facetiously suggested that a Facebook group that ostensibly was lobbying to get the Associated Press to change its style from Web site to website actually succeeded following AP’s announcement of a style update. Well, seems there might have been more to it than just me yammering on with my tongue in my cheek.

Simon Owens, who runs the Bloggasm blog, actually tracked down the guy responsible for the Facebook page and a women who was lobbying for the same thing on Twitter and interviewed them about their experiences with trying to change the mind of the AP. He wrote an interesting article on the topic and sent me a link today.

According to Owens, AP actually had a website where folks could make suggestions for style rules specifically for new media. I wondered why I hadn’t heard of it, since I’m the stylemeister in our agency and have subscribed to the online AP Stylebook since God was young. Must have been for their real subscribers — newspapers.

Owens’ story reminded me of my experience with the AP several years ago. From time to time I have been in touch with the editors of the stylebook to resolve some pesky style issues related to our Florida Keys tourism account, and had always found them to be helpful, if a bit crusty in their communications style.

But then they changed the style of telephone numbers.

AP went from XXX-XXX-XXXX to (XXX) XXX-XXXX. No biggie, right? Well it is if your press kit contains scores of basic releases like our Keys account’s. That’s a lot of phone numbers to change. But we did it, amid loud grumblings from the groundlings who undertook the monumental task.

Then three months later AP changed the style back to dashes from parentheses. No explanation, no nothing. Just one of those irregular, dispassionate e-mails stating a style change.

Needless to say, the groundlings’ grumblings became ever more vociferous at the prospect of revising the press kit again. So I wrote to the editors asking about the rationale behind the change-back — twice. Never heard a word of explanation.

As a result, we have been non-AP-style-compliant for the past few years, eschewing the dash in favor of the parentheses mainly to avoid a whole bunch of work, but also as a form of mild protest. Currently we are revising the press kit and have tossed the parens and are inserting dashes as we go.

I still wonder about the whimsy of the AP style-setters gazing down upon us from their Olympian elevation, but apparently they do — rarely — listen to us mere mortals.

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