As any grizzled newspaper copy editor will tell you, shit ain't real until the AP Stylebook says so. Taken as a whole, a year's worth of Stylebook updates is a kind of warped mirror to world events; you can tell which stories took up the most ink and/or pixels by taking a look at what the Stylebook committee felt the need to clarify. And all these updates are made by committee — so you can imagine the hand-wringing that went into clarifying the proper usage of "unfriend."
JANUARY | The year started in catastrophe, and in the midst of staggering human tragedy the Stylebook made sure we were fully informed: PORT-AU-PRINCE, it instructed us, is pronounced "port-oh-PRIHNS."
FEBRUARY | Stylebook beat the midwinter blues with classy binge-eating, updating us on ARTISANAL ("refers to foods and drinks produced in small batches") and ORGANIC ("a federally regulated food labeling item . . . produced without using most conventional pesticides"). Whatever — it's all going the same place, foodie.
MARCH | The iPAD, we learned, is "much like an iPod but is larger." Despite Steve Jobs's love for interCapping, the Stylebook noted, it is okay to make the "i" uppercase when the word starts a sentence or headline. As in: "IPads are just like big iPods."
APRIL | At least 15 years after the rise of Geocities, the Stylebook finally conceded that WEBSITE is a compound word, like "rainbow," or "newspaper," rather than the stodgier, curmudgeon-preferred "Web site." The 'Book noted: "Also, WEBCAM, WEBCAST, and WEBMASTER." Nonetheless, the Phoenix news section continues to use "Web site." Because we're curmudgeons.
MAY | FAISAL SHAHZAD's name, the 'Book informed, is pronounced "FY'-sul shah-ZAHD," not "that fuckup who can't even wire a bomb properly."
JUNE | Summer brought us entries for VUVUZELA ("Plastic horns used by fans at World Cup games in South Africa"), as well as a slew of social-media terms: AVATAR, CLICK-THROUGH, HASHTAG, LIVEBLOG, UNFRIEND, WIKI, and many more. Clearly the Stylebook staff spent most of its summer indoors. The Stylebook also added an entire section on the journalistic use of social-networking sites, explaining "how to verify sources found through social media." What, are you saying we can't source facts to "anonymous" on 4chan anymore?
JULY | Nothing for July. Apparently the Stylebook staff were all off at the journalism beach . . .
AUGUST | . . . But they made up for it in August, a month in which the Stylebook noted that FOODBORNE is an adjective — possibly the result of a beach luau gone awry? — and also added an entry for WYCLEF JEAN: "Hip-hop artist launching a bid for the presidency of Haiti." We wonder how long that definition will linger.
SEPTEMBER | This month, the Stylebook clarified the usage of PORTZEBIE, FURSHLUGGINER, and FWADDAPP! — oh, wait, that was the Fake AP Stylebook. We assume JILZOST is still okay.
OCTOBER | A momentous month! If the Stylebook hadn't updated its entry on the current GREAT RECESSION "to include a reference to its end in June 2009," how would we have known it was over?
NOVEMBER | In a long-overdue update, the Stylebook noted the difference between MIDGET and DWARF. Takeaway: don't call a dwarf a midget. And the plural is "dwarfs," not "dwarves," for you Tolkien-reading, D&D-newsletter-editing nerds.
DECEMBER | The year ends with two depressing updates: the preferred usage of both CYBERBULLYING and TEA PARTY. Clearly, Stylebook is trying to tell us that this year, the country has become overrun with assholes.