Opinion

Editor's Column

"We just received the latest edition of the AP Stylebook, which as the Bible of our trade is something largely to be ignored. But one can't help but notice it has grown through the years. The first one I ever saw in the mid-'70s was probably 40 pages in length. Short, concise, just the facts. The year 2000 AP Stylebook is 413 pages in length: long, murky, with an all-new Internet guide. There's so much information in the Information Age that nobody knows where to stop, including those heralded AP editors who used to sum up an entire article in the lead paragraph. Today, lead paragraphs are few and far between. Monday's P-I has a story about a race track crash in which the two writers used up three paragraphs before getting around to telling us what happened. No wonder we need a 413-page stylebook.The South Whidbey Record has never paid much attention to AP (Associated Press) style because we don't belong to the AP, which consists almost entirely of daily newspapers. When a daily has space to fill, editors reach into their computers and grab whatever AP copy they need, from anywhere in the world. When a weekly newspaper editor has space to fill, he or she grabs a camera, takes a picture of something and writes a story. It doesn't matter what, because anything that happens in the community is news.I scanned the 413-page AP Stylebook and didn't find anything specifically geared toward South Whidbey Island. This is how it has always been, and that is good. It allows us to make up our own style.For example, only in The South Whidbey Record will you see the word Southend, all one word, capitalized. Judging by how surrounding dailies refer to us, the AP stylebook requires south end when referring to the southern portion of an island or anything else. But we shrink it into one word because that's how us islanders say it, and it's where we live: I live on the Southend, and I'm proud of it. The Record capitalizes it because the Southend is our home. No doubt there are other small newspapers in the country that refer to themselves as the Southend of something, and they capitalize it, too. We're all proud of where we live.It goes without saying locally that South should be capitalized in South Whidbey, but the AP stylebook would disagree. Dailies call us south Whidbey, which is clear proof that they know nothing about the geography of Whidbey Island. Don't ever trust anyone reporting from south Whidbey. They don't know what they're talking about.The Record uses North Whidbey and Central Whidbey, even though AP requires north Whidbey and central Whidbey. But, according to our own style, one who lives on South Whidbey is a Southender with a capital S. We never call a North Whidbey resident a northender, because it could lead to Civil War. And we can't think of anything to call Central Whidbey residents. Centralists, perhaps, with a capital C.One of these days the editor of The South Whidbey Record will write a Whidbey Island Stylebook, which will be one page in length and which editors on Central and North Whidbey will proudly ignore. When you get right down to it, we all need a style of our own. "

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