A tweet inspired the change (ironic, no?):
I saw this tweet, from UNC journalism professor Andy Bechtel, and a few people I follow were chiming in on the debate. It got me thinking. I knew the DTH style has always been Internet, and that’s in keeping with the conventions of the AP Stylebook. Here’s the entry on the term “internet” (which I accessed via the internet):
A decentralized, worldwide network of computers that can communicate with each other. In later references, the Net is acceptable. The World Wide Web, like email, is a subset of the Internet. They are not synonymous and should not be used interchangeably in stories.
Makes sense, except when you consider one of the principal reasons that style exists: readability. For example, a few years back there was a sizeable push on campus to change the DTH’s style on “freshman” to “first-year.” The idea was to help remove language that was inherently sexist from the paper (the University had already made the change). But DTH editor Andrew Dunn countered with the idea that freshman is still the most recognizable word for a student in his or her first year of an undergraduate education. It’s all about clarity.
For our audience, the internet refers to the network that allows them to access information remotely, through a defined and well-known collection of devices. For all intents and purposes, it is a medium — widely and authoritatively, though perhaps technically incorrectly, used to denote the space in which people find themselves “online.”
I’ve always thought the capitalized ‘I’ was unnecessary. Today I consulted with the managing editor and the editor of the copy desk, and they agreed. So we’re making the change. It seems only appropriate that we, as representative of an age group constantly connected to the internet, would be semi-ahead of the curve among news outlets.
(I fully realize and appreciate the irony associated with formally acknowledging the influence of a medium that has radically threatened newspapers’ very existence through a style change, and one publicized on a blog, and I’d like for you to take a moment to do the same).
This was a no-brainer, but that doesn’t mean all style changes should be this easy. There are long debates to be had on the term illegal immigrant (which we still use) and, yes, even freshman.
But this step, like getting all your news from Buzzfeed and ignoring community journalism, was just too easy.