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The Global Press Style Guide

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captions

Rule:

In captions, only include dates when a specific date is relevant to the understanding of the caption and image. Do not include dates when the action of the image is not time-sensitive or the meaning of the story isn’t likely to change with time.

Rationale:

If the date is not relevant to the story or the image, including it in the caption can disrupt reader clarity.

Ceylon/ese

This is no longer a deviation from AP Style. AP removed its entry for Ceylon in late 2018.

Rule:

Do not use the term Ceylon to refer to the country of Sri Lanka, and do not use the term Ceylonese to describe the people of Sri Lanka. References to Ceylon Tea should only be used to describe the Ceylon tea brand.

Rationale:

This is a colonial term that does not acknowledge that the country gained independence in 1948.

chairman/chairwoman/chairperson

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

In cases of gendered, official titles such as chairman, use the formal title adopted by the person currently holding the position even when the gender noted in it does not appear to match the gender of the person holding it.

Rationale:

It’s not appropriate for a news agency to change a person’s official title.

civil war

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use the term civil war to describe a conflict in a single country between government and nongovernment actors that have the legitimate potential to unseat a formal government or claim and actively govern a significant area of land within its borders.

Do not capitalize the term civil war on its own. When referring to a specific civil war, use and capitalize the full name, if a full name is commonly recognized locally, and identify the country, parties involved and the years when the war occurred.

Rationale:

Precise references to conflicts and civil wars ensure reader clarity.

Example:

The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999, when anti-government fighting broke out in the north. This was following the First Liberian Civil War, which lasted from 1989 to 1996.

climate change

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use the terms climate change and global warming as synonyms. Do not use phrases such as climate change denier, doubter or skeptic to refer to sources who do not believe that climate change is happening, although those phrases are acceptable in quotes when directly relevant. Describe a person’s opinion on the issue in context and with specificity.

Rationale:

The term climate change encompasses a wide range of environmental phenomena, including instances of extreme weather, changes in rainfall patterns, ocean acidification and changes in sea level. Global warming refers to a worldwide rise in temperatures. Labels such as climate change denier and others indicate bias on the part of the news agency.

Colombo

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not refer to Colombo as the capital of Sri Lanka. It is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is the name of both a city and a district in Sri Lanka.

Rationale:

Accurate and precise descriptions promote reader clarity.

Congo (Republic of Congo), Democratic Republic of Congo

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use DRC as the abbreviation for Democratic Republic of Congo on second reference; the dateline counts as the first reference. For stories published in English, do not use “the DRC,” except in quotes. For stories published in French, use “la RDC” because of the grammar requirements of the language. When referring to the Republic of Congo, a different country, use the country’s full name on second reference.

Rationale:

Using DRC on second reference is precise and prioritizes reader clarity.

contested land areas

Rule:

Do not refer to contested land areas in a way that demonstrates a preference for one side, even if widely used maps, such as Google maps, do not indicate disputed borders. Always add context to inform the reader that an area is contested, when that contestation is relevant to the story’s news value.

Rationale:

Many maps are not updated to reflect local disputes and conditions. Common narratives regarding contested areas often don’t fully recognize local realities.

continental references

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Do not use continental references as adjectives to generally describe people, practice, language or culture, including art. Be precise and use specific descriptions.

Rationale:

Precise descriptions and specific descriptions promote source dignity and reader clarity.

Example:

The gallery is devoted both to the presentation of contemporary art and to the preservation of Zimbabwe’s visual heritage. It’s also home to a collection of paintings, masks, images and sculptures, both ancient and modern, from across the continent. Read this full story from Zimbabwe here.

corn, maize

Rule:

Use interchangeably, based on the regional preference of residents of the location in the dateline.

Rationale:

The staple crop is referred to differently depending on the region.

coup

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Use this word to describe actions by the military, political leadership or other actors, national or foreign, to replace a government’s leadership, whether carried out by force, nonviolently or by legal actions.

Rationale:

Timely use of this word ensures reader clarity by providing accurate and foundational news coverage of politically complex scenarios.

Example:

With a record voter turnout of more than 70 percent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the ZANU-PF leader who became the head of state in November after he led a coup against longtime President Robert Mugabe, defeated Nelson Chamisa, the 40-year-old head of the main opposition party, MDC Alliance.

cultural genocide

Rule:

Cultural genocide describes a scenario in which a specific culture is systematically targeted for destruction by denying the people who practice that culture access to it and when that destruction is in progress.

Cultural genocide should not be used as a synonym for a disenfranchised culture. It may be part of a physical genocide, but it is not always so. Cultural genocide should not be used to refer to a naturally fading or dying culture.

As with the word genocide, the phrase cultural genocide should be used carefully and with significant forethought and verification. Local people who represent various perspectives should express agreement on the details of the actions occurring on the ground, even if they don’t expressly agree that those actions constitute cultural genocide.

Rationale:

Direct, precise language is required when describing instances of a forcible loss of culture.

culture

Rule:

Use the word culture when referring to customary beliefs, but be as precise as possible when only a single facet of a culture, such as religion, is relevant. Do not use culture to refer to countries, races or other large groups of people who have similarities but may not share a specific cultural element.

Rationale:

Culture refers to the customary beliefs and practices of a specific group of people. Culture includes, but is not limited to, religion, nonreligious traditions or a language shared by that group.

currency

This is a deviation from AP Style.

Rule:

Always use local currency to value goods and services referred to in a story. Follow each reference to local currency with the U.S.-dollar equivalent in parentheses, using $ and not the word dollar, rounding up or down where necessary for clarity. If a country also uses the U.S. dollar as a primary currency, add context to explain.

Do not capitalize the name of the currency. Always spell out, lowercase. Specify the name of the currency on first reference, such as Nepalese rupees, dropping the country name on subsequent references. If dealing with two currencies with the same name in a story, such as Indian rupees and Nepalese rupees, use full names throughout the story.

Currency exchange rates should be determined using a consistent source and updated within 24 hours of publication.

Rationale:

Stories should be written from the perspective of the location noted in the dateline, not the location of the intended reader.