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AP Now Pronounces You Husband and Husband, Wife and Wife

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | On its third try in a week, the Associated Press got it right.

Gay men in legal same-sex marriages will be called husbands and lesbians in such marriages will be called wives in editorial copy AP produces.

A February 21 posting on the wire service’s website announcing the policy comes just one week after an internal AP memo suggested the group was equivocal, at best, about how it was willing to characterize spouses in a same-sex marriage.

That earlier memo, provided to the jimromenesko.com media watch website by spokesman Paul Colford, stated, “Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

Then, making a distinction difficult to discern with clarity, Colford’s memo continued, “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms (“Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones”) or in quotes attributed to them.”

Given the large volume of newspaper copy nationwide generated by AP and the fact that the group purports to set style standards for American journalism generally, its unwillingness to recognize marriage by same-sex coouples without reservation was troubling.

Colford’s message to jimromenesko.com was prompted by that website’s publication earlier that week of another AP memo that stated, “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

Colford advised Romenesko that the memo he forwarded reflected a revision to the language that website earlier cited. The revision, however, seemed like only a grudging advance.

In its latest announcement, AP worked to distract attention from its earlier unwelcome attempts to define a policy for writing about same-sex spouses.

AP’s senior managing editor for US news, Mike Oreskes, explained, “The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife. All the previous conversation was in the absence of such a formal entry. This lays down clear and simple usage. After reviewing existing practice, we are formalizing ‘husband, wife’ as an entry.”

The new policy advised AP reporters that “spouse or partner may be used if requested.”

Earlier this year, AP scrubbed the word homophobia from use by its reporters, advising them to use language that is “neutral” and “precise.”

 

 

 

FEB 21

The following entry was added today to the AP Stylebook Online and also will appear in the new print edition andStylebook Mobile, published in the spring:

 

husband, wife Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. .
“The AP has never had a Stylebook entry on the question of the usage of husband and wife,” said AP Senior Managing Editor for U.S. News Mike Oreskes. “All the previous conversation was in the absence of such a formal entry. This lays down clear and simple usage. After reviewing existing practice, we are formalizing ‘husband, wife’ as an entry.”

 

 

 

BY PAUL SCHINDLER | An internal Associated Press memo, intended for use by its reporters, suggests that the group is equivocal, at best, about how it is willing to characterize spouses in a same-sex marriage.

stated a memo that spokesman Paul Colford provided to the jimromenesko.com media watch website this week.

Making a distinction that is difficult to discern with clarity, Colford’s memo also stated, “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ Our view is that such terms may be used in AP content if those involved have regularly used those terms (“Smith is survived by his husband, John Jones”) or in quotes attributed to them.”

Given the large volume of newspaper copy nationwide generated by AP and the fact that the group purports to set style standards for American journalism generally, its unwillingness to recognize marriage by same-sex copies without reservation is troubling.

Colford’s message to jimromenesko.com was prompted by the website’s publication earlier in the week of another AP memo that stated, “We were asked how to report about same-sex couples who call themselves ‘husband’ and ‘wife.’ Our view is that such terms may be used in AP stories with attribution. Generally AP uses couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”

Colford advised Romenesko that the memo he forwarded reflects a revision to the language the website earlier cited. The revision, however, seems like only a grudging –– or is it Drudging? –– advance.

Earlier this year, AP scrubbed the word homophobia from use by its reporters, advising them to use language that is “neutral” and “precise.”

For now, the practice of calling homosexual men “gay” appears to be safe, but we’ll keep you advised.

 

3 Responses to AP Now Pronounces You Husband and Husband, Wife and Wife

  1. Perley J. Thibodeau February 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I was a little surprised to read a cooking column in the Bangor Daily News the other day that referred to a couple as something like the man and the woman of the house.
    The author of the column being a bylined man.
    What surprised me the most was the fact that the Bangor Daily News has championed same sex marriage from the very beginning.
    And it is now the law in the state of Maine!
    Were I not still angry with my long time good friends at the News I would have posted my feelings on the subject
    As it is, hopefully they'll see what the AP is doing and inform their writers to follow suit.
    All this Husband-Husband-Wife-Wife sounds good to me even though I still intend to remain single.
    Now all we need to to have the U.S. Supreme Court call it, "LEGAL!"

    Reply
    • Perley J. Thibodeau February 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Now all we need is to have the U.S. Supreme Court call it, "LEGAL!"
      It's been a rough day!

      Reply
  2. Pingback: AP Now Pronounces You Husband and Husband, Wife and Wife | MasterAdrian2nd

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