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Note From The Handshake Copy Desk: Phrase “tweet” Banned In Times Stories

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Waiting in a bus station in Plattsburgh, N.Y., last year, I listened to the CNN news anchors report about wildfires in California. They told viewers about Twitter updates from people fleeing their homes. They repeated tweets commenting on the matter. Every other sentence seemed to contain  “Twitter” or “tweet.”

Where was CNN’s own reporting? Did the reporters not realize how silly they sounded reporting the news straight from Twitter.com?

When I heard this morning that The New York Times “banned” use of the term “tweet” I pondered if this was the move I waited for from big news companies. The Awl posted a memo from Phil Corbett, NYT standards editor, asking writers to abstain from use of “tweet,” both as a noun and verb. Corbett argued that the term is Twitter jargon.

“Tweet” has yet to become as common as “e-mail,” so don’t treat it as such.

The word had appeared 18 times in Times articles in the past month, Corbett wrote.

So I searched “tweet” to find out how the Times reporters used it.

The Arts Beat blog reported June 2 on Conan O’Brien fans tweeting during a show. A technology article from May 18 about a cell phone carrier to boost Twitter in Japan used “tweet” eight times.

Maybe a ban on the word is really a ban on attention to the mundane.

Abandon sentences like “Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama tweets frequently, as does the astronaut and national hero Soichi Noguchi, who tweets from the International Space Station.” After all, who cares?

While the Associated Press just approved use of tweet as a verb and noun, we’re with the Times on this one.

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2 Responses to “Note From The Handshake Copy Desk: Phrase “tweet” Banned In Times Stories”

  1. avatar Nick McCrea says:

    It’s funny how technology seems to hurt reporting and help it at the same time

  2. avatar Erica Sanderson says:

    Who knew an AP Stylebook could be so dangerous? I may keep one around in my purse for self-defense.