Do we really need to have such a big focus on AP Style in journalism school when SEO is going to be more valuable?
When I was taking my journalism classes in college, I haaaated AP Style. For the record, I do not pretend to be a good writer at all. In fact, I’m barely passable.
I wrote some pretty damn good stories in college but lost many grade points because of AP Style errors. AP Style became the focus of my hatred for print media. I enjoy reading print stories, but knew it would never be my profession.
Now that blogs, Twitter, and Facebook lead American news dissemination, how much does strict AP conformity really matter?
Not at all
There is an argument to be made that journalists should be taught both. I can’t really disagree. However, that’s nearly impossible for many of us.
Most people have the capacity to learn one, maybe two writing styles, and actually be good at them. Your first is the everyday email style of writing. That’s really what I would consider most of my blogging; halfway decent streams of thought.
Second would be your more formal article style writing. Straight forward and clear, but not worrying much about AP Style.
Then there is this third category of New York Times style. The apex AP Style.
Writing for SEO is an art just like AP Style
Assuming that the brain typically has the capacity to handle only a couple of writing styles, (casual and formal) where’s the room for AP and SEO?
If you are not the type to focus on things like SEO, let me just tell you that article writing for SEO is an art form that is just as hard to master as AP Style. It takes a lot of time and effort to even become remotely successful at SEO.
SEO is far more important to learn today than AP. SEO is what will help get you that first job, and earn you that first promotion because of all your ninja SEO skills.
If I had to cut classes due to a lack of patience and frustration, I would cut the AP Style course. AP can be learned later in life. There’s no learning curve or shelf life to worry about. The AP Style hardly ever makes significant changes to their overall spec.
SEO strategies and best practices change multiple times a week. Journalists must learn SEO today to stay on top of their game.
Choosing the better of the two evils
If you are registering for classes and only have room for one course, choose the SEO class with the geeks. It will pay off sooner than the AP Style class full of media elitists. And remember, you can always learn AP later.
Lastly, and most importantly, don’t forget to hire me when you see my resume cross your desk.