The Associated Press just passed along an internal memo to the Media Mob. After more than 80 years, the AP is dropping the word “writer” from its bylines, according to Tom Kent, deputy managing editor for standards and production. Our best guess is that they’re very happy about the change in a we’re-all-digital-journalists way, but it’s hard to think of anything that would be more cosmetic.
Here’s the memo:
After more than 80 years, we’re planning to retire the storied term “Associated Press Writer.”
Effective Oct. 26, our byline style for most writers will change from …
By JOHN SMITH
Associated Press Writer
… to the more platform-neutral:
By JOHN SMITH
These days, the byline on an AP story may rightfully belong to a text reporter, a photographer, a videographer or a radio reporter. For instance, photographer Aijaz Rahi bylined our coverage of a recent plane crash in India. Videographer Rich Matthews had his byline on Gulf oil spill stories. Some of our staffers have extensive multimedia skills and work with several platforms every day. Saying simply “Associated Press” focuses on the important thing: that the material is from an Associated Press journalist.
Many newspapers and websites already change “Associated Press Writer” to “Associated Press,” or simply use the AP logo. We already use the signoff “Associated Press” on radio and video reports.
The change will not affect special bylines like “AP Political Writer,” “AP Military Writer,” “AP Sports Writer,” “AP Business Writer” and others. When we say in a note at the end of a story that several people contributed to the reporting, we can still specify when useful that someone is a photographer, video journalist, etc. The underline “For The Associated Press” remains available for those situations that require it.
We will make this change effective after a series of advisories. Elvis and Reporters Workbench templates will be updated to reflect it.
The earliest example of “Associated Press Writer” that our archivists can find is from August 1927. It was initially used for sports writers. The term was then more generally adopted, starting in 1928, as “Associated Press Staff Writer.” By the start of 1929, “Associated Press Writer” was in general use.