Update: The Word ‘Tweet’ is Still Not in the New York Times Style Guide

In June 2010, New York Times associate standards editor Phillip B. Corbett issued a proclamation within the newsroom effectively putting the kibosh on the word “Tweet” without technically banning it (as he later explained when he responded to, yes, outrage over the aforementioned leaked memo). UPDATED.

New York Times metro reporter Hannah Miet explained on Twitter—in a tweet, of course—that:


UPDATE: Phillip B. Corbett responded to The Observer‘s request for comment via email; as it turns out, the word “tweet” is not in the New York Times style guide (yet).

“Our approach hasn’t changed,” wrote Mr. Corbett. “We view it as informal or colloquial, fine to use in some contexts but not routinely in straight news stories. When we do use it, it’s lowercase, because it’s not a trademark.”

As for why a Times reporter might think the word had finally reached the level of inclusion, he surmised: “I think it appeared uppercase somewhere in The Times recently, and a colleague reminded editors that it should be lowercase. Maybe that was misunderstood?”

Mr. Corbett—who did not italicize “The Times” in his email—assured The Observer that should any developments occur on the etymological scandal front regarding the word “Tweet” and it’s eagerly-awaited inclusion into the New York Times Style Guide, he’ll let us know.

In the original June 2010 memo, Mr. Corbett wrote:

Except for special effect, we try to avoid colloquialisms, neologisms and jargon. And “tweet” – as a noun or a verb, referring to messages on Twitter – is all three. Yet it has appeared 18 times in articles in the past month, in a range of sections. […] “Tweet” may be acceptable occasionally for special effect. But let’s look for deft, English alternatives: use Twitter, post to or on Twitter, write on Twitter, a Twitter message, a Twitter update. Or, once you’ve established that Twitter is the medium, simply use “say” or “write.”

In the response to comments about the memo, he then explained that his memo was simply “a reminder,” and not to read him the riot act:

The scorn we encounter from traditionalists for allowing “data” as either singular or plural — previously my benchmark for an incendiary stylebook issue — pales in comparison.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek Update: The Word ‘Tweet’ is Still Not in the New York Times Style Guide