The Associated Press issues a stylebook that most newspapers in the country consult for guidelines on grammar, style and word usage.
Most of the entries are non-controversial. … AVOID AWKWARD CONSTRUCTIONS. Yes, the stylebook (one word) — like an persnickety, hard-of-hearing, old biddy — uses all caps. DA (no periods) is OK to use for district attorney on second reference. Military titles are generally abbreviated: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is Gen. Martin Dempsey (not General Martin Dempsey).
But sometimes the AP mavens do something more than tell a copy editor where to stick a hyphen.
On Thursday, Mike Oreskes, AP’s senior managing editor for U.S. News, waded into the debate on gay marriage with an entry to its online stylebook:
husband, wife Regardless of sexual orientation, husband or wife is acceptable in all references to individuals in any legally recognized marriage. Spouse or partner may be used if requested.
Jim Romenesko, who blogs about media, got hold of an internal AP memo last month that told staffers to use “couples or partners to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages.”
David Crary, who covers national social issues for AP, balked. So did gay rights groups.