The ‘internet’ Is Down, Says the AP Stylebook

By Joseph Priest, Corporate Writer, Syniverse

A frequently used term in public relations and a sister term have just gotten a face-lift, or face-down, I should say. 

In tandem with the recent American Copy Editors Society (ACES) 2016 annual conference, the usually sound Associated Press announced it will officially use a lowercase spelling for “Internet” and “Web” for its stylebook effective June 1. 

The news was greeted with both praise and skepticism, but those who disagree with the change, like me, are clearly in the minority.

As with the removal of the hyphen in “e-mail,” I’m against this change and against the simplification of digital terms in general. The arguments presented for the lowercase form at the ACES conference seem to be as much about "Aw, c'mon, everyone knows what this means, so why do we need to go to the bother of using the shift key every time?" as much as they are about names vs. generic terms.

"Internet" isn't a brand name or a trademark, but it did enter the language as a name rather than a simple term. It didn't have to, but it did, just as names like “White House,” “Cold War” and “Continental Divide” did. For this reason, I think that precedent should be respected. There’s still a difference between “an internet,” an interconnected system of networks, and “the Internet,” the publicly accessible system of networks that connects computers globally through a certain protocol.

As for "web," that has many other, generic meanings, as opposed to just World Wide Web. A woven fabric or structure, something that is intricately contrived (web of lies), and a fold of skin connecting the toes of some animals are just a few other meanings.   

Public relations pros will be prudent to follow AP style and begin adopting the lowercased spellings of “Internet” and “Web” in their professional work. However, in personal and non-work-related communications, I for one will continue to use “Internet” and “Web” for a while.

What do you think?

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Member Spotlight: Betty Carlin, APR

This Member Spotlight profiles Betty Carlin, APR, who is principal of Carlin Communications. Betty is currently a member of the PRSA Tampa Bay board, liaison to the Programs Committee, and member of the Agency Leaders Committee, and her past involvement has included such positions as secretary, treasurer, and co-chair of the 2003 Sunshine District Conference, since she joined the chapter in 1996.

1. First news publication you read in the morning?
The Tampa Bay Times, on my iPad.

2. First public relations job?
I was assistant account executive at Cherie Troped Communications, a boutique PR firm in Tampa.

3. Most important career mentor?
Allan Priaux, former publisher of American Banker and founder of Resource Media Consultants, New York. Allan encouraged me to take on new challenges, including serving as lead editor for Bankers as Brokers, the first book about brokerage in the banking industry, and he provided guidance for the first crisis situation I had to deal with.

4. Top grammar, style or writing pet peeve?
Sloppy writing, with typos that should have been caught before publication.

5. Most rewarding accomplishment in public relations?
The passage of state legislation that created the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority and elevated the discussion on regional transportation issues in Tampa Bay.

6. Advice to new public relations professionals?
Always remember that as a professional you’re only as good as your reputation and your ethics.  

7. Job you would pursue if you weren’t in public relations?
Corporate attorney.

8. Favorite movie?
White Christmas.

9. Favorite vacation?
A cruise through the Inside Passage of Alaska.

10. Any three dinner guests?
Bill Gates, Maya Angelou and Pope Francis. 



My husband, Bill, and I are USF alumni and huge USF fans, and we have season tickets to both football and basketball games. I’m also involved with the USF Alumni Association and recently served as a facilitator for the USF Undergraduate Research Colloquium. Go Bulls!

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