Crimea Isn't in Ukraine or Russia, According to the Associated Press

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 19 2014 6:27 PM

Crimea Isn't in Ukraine or Russia, According to the Associated Press' New Style Update

479525961-pro-russian-self-defense-activists-sit-on-an-armed
Pro-Russian self-defense activists sit on an armed personnel carrier after they seized the Ukrainian navy headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on March 19, 2014.

Photo by VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images

According to journalism’s style icon, Crimea is no longer in Ukraine nor is it in Russia. The Associated Press today changed its datelines, those first few words that preface every article with a location, to reflect Crimea’s new status. Dispatches from, say, Sevastopol will now read “SEVASTOPOL, Crimea” instead of “SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine.”

“AP datelines should reflect the facts on the ground,” Tom Kent, deputy managing editor and standards editor of the AP wrote to explain the change. Wiggling around the truly political decision of whether Crimea is now part of Russia, the AP cited a technicality – that the two regions have no land border.

Saying just the city name and “Crimea” in the dateline, even in the event of full annexation, would be consistent with how we handle geographically separate parts of other countries. For instance, we just say “Sicily” and “Sardinia” in datelines — “PALERMO, Sicily (AP)” — even though they are part of Italy, and “Guadeloupe” in datelines even though that island is part of France.
Advertisement

Whether or not the news service wants to admit it, words are political. As The Guardian notes, the AP has “waded into controversy before with its attempts to avoid controversy” when it banned the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal” to describe a person rather than an action.

The latest decision also begs the question, what would the AP do if there were a shared border or if Russia were to grab more land in Ukraine, thereby connecting the regions?

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 8:15 AM Ted Cruz Will Not Join a Protest of "The Death of Klinghoffer" After All
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 9:03 AM My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. And Then I Found Myself With Someone Like Dad.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 8:27 AM Only Science Fiction Can Save Us! What sci-fi gets wrong about income inequality.
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 17 2014 10:20 AM White People Are Fine With Laws That Harm Blacks The futility of fighting criminal justice racism with statistics.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.