Yahoo (YHOO) said today that it is publishing a style guide of its own, designed specifically for creating original content for the digital world - an modern-day Associated Press Stylebook, if you will.
It will definitely be a welcome guide for guys like me - traditional media journalists who jumped into the online medium, only to find that some of the styles, techniques and rules that we learned in newspaper or television newsrooms don’t necessarily translate easily into an online world.
But more importantly, this old-school paper book - which will go on sale on July 6 - shows Yahoo’s commitment to original news content and further proves that news publishers were off the mark when they saw Google (GOOG) and its news aggregation site as the company going after their business models.
Yahoo, it seems, has its sights set on being the model for the 21st Century news business. It’s a shame, too, because so many highly-regarded news outlets - and journalists, for that matter - have been turning their noses up at online journalism, trying to pass it off as a fad or even unreputable forms of news that were all about quantity (of page views), instead of quality.
This past week, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, a group of which I’m a lifetime member, held its annual convention in Denver. I couldn’t attend because of a scheduling conflict so I did what I do for many events that I can’t attend - I followed the Twitter tag. It was through the tweets from only a handful of people that I quickly learned that the traditional journalists at the conference were hungry for more information on how to write for online, how to craft an SEO-friendly headline (which reporters never used to write) and how to use links to tell a back story (instead of re-telling it.)
The Yahoo document takes the best of the decades-old AP Stylebook and combines it with the new rules that apply - or should be applied - in today’s online news world. It would have been nice if the AP itself had done something like this first.
But the AP - and its members - seemed to be so concerned with fighting off what appeared to be threats against their business models, that they didn’t seem to notice Yahoo coming up strong to take the best of what news companies do and bring it into the 21st Century.
Personally, I plan to pick up Yahoo’s book, flip through it and then put it on my bookshelf. There’s a soon-to-be-open space on my bookshelf where the AP Stylebook currently sits.