The NewsBusters.org Style Guide
This document is intended as a reference for all bloggers who contribute to NewsBusters. In order to be a poster, you must follow this styleguide.
Postings submitted must be relevant to the mission of NewsBusters, i.e., you must write about media bias. Occasionally, we also will have postings about the media business, technology (as it affects the media), and the blogosphere in general. We are not interested in articles advocating for/against policy positions or politicians. For information on identifying what we mean by "liberal media bias," follow this link.
The NewsBusters Style Guide is not intended to be comprehensive. As a general rule, we follow the AP Stylebook. This guide is merely a condensed and slightly revised addendum for the writer who blogs on NewsBusters. For a more comprehensive AP style reference, please refer to this page as well as this page.
All NB writers are also expected to adhere to the methodologies and practices outlined in our reference guide, "How to Identify Liberal Media Bias."
If you're interested in some general writing tips, follow this link.
- Refer to both sides using their preferred language, pro-life and pro-choice.
- In all cases, possessive singular nouns are to end with -’s. This includes nouns ending is -s, e.g. Thomas’s, Times’s. Plural possessive nouns need only the apostrophe.
- The subject of apostrophes is one area where this guide does not follow the AP stylebook but rather the best practices of most every large American newspaper and magazine.
- Bolding a passage for emphasis is acceptable provided it is not done too much. Boldface may only be used in quotation and never within something you are writing.
- See Television shows.
- A category is a keyword assigned to a posting based upon its content. Each entry you post must have at least one category. Almost always you should use more than one.
- Categories are to be used following the guidelines below:
- Capitalized properly using the conventions described in the Headlines section.
- Relevant to the story. If a person, place, or thing is mentioned only tangentially within a story, do not assign a category for it.
- Appropriate to the category. Do not, for instance, make a new category for "existentialism" within the "Issues and Events" category.
- Within the mission of NewsBusters. Since NB is only supposed to cover media and political topics with occasional forays into technology, do not assign categories for things not related to the purpose of the site. The "existentialism" topic mentioned above is an example of a category that is not appropriate for NewsBusters.
- When quoting from a source, for fair use and story narrative purposes, it may become necessary to remove certain words from the quotation.
In such cases, ellipses (...) may be used but they must be enclosed in brackets  to denote that you are shortening the form of the quoted material. At no point may quoted material be shortened to alter its context or change its meaning.
When using ellipses in long-form excerpts (see "Quotations" below) they must appear within the same paragraph of the first cut and not on their own separate line.
- Two commonly confused words in a media context. Flack refers to a person acting as a public representative for a party or politician (shilling). Flak refers to criticism that is being launched against someone similar to anti-aircraft artillery shooting projectiles at airplanes.
- All article headlines must be capitalized, relevant to the post, pithy, and descriptive as possible. Avoid the use of prepositions and conjunctions as much as possible.
Do not use double quotation marks (") in any headline. Single quotation marks (') are permitted in instances where you are quoting a person or referring to a media product such as a book, movie, or television show.
Unless they are preceded by a hyphen (e.g. Anti-war), all words in a headline must be capitalized except the following: a, an, and, as, at, by, for, in, of, on, the, to.
- You may use images within a posting if they are relevant to the story such as portraying an event that happened during a television show (a screenshot), illustrating a person mentioned in the story (file photo), or capturing a particular web or print feature.
- All images must be tasteful and adhere to certain dimension constraints (no wider than 240 pixels and no taller than 180 pixels) except in extreme circumstances. Make sure to align your images to the right side of the page within the blog posting interface. NewsBusters requires all images to be in JPEG format with the exceptions of screenshots or clipart which can be in PNG format.
- Do not link images from other blog sites as this action is broadly frowned upon in the blogging community. Instead, if the image is from a blog site, copy the image in question to your computer and then upload it to the NB server. Directions for this procedure are available upon request of the Editor.
- All images are subject to review and may be removed by an editor if they do not fit within these guidelines, are causing pages to load slowly, or do not adhere to U.S. copyright laws.
- Italics are not to be used in quotations. They may be used very sparingly in regular text. They are not to be used for movies, newspapers, television shows, television networks, magazines or any media product or company.
- When discussing a word as a word itself (such as discussing the definition of is), always make the word in question italicized.
- The lede of a story is the first few sentences. If you write good ledes, people will want to read your blog post, if not, they will skip on to the next one.
- In almost all cases, a good lede puts the most important information at the beginning of the story. Good ledes are also brief and engaging. They give enough information to make the reader want to keep reading. For more on writing a good lede, see these pages (1, 2, 3, 4).
- A link is used to refer to another web page. Links to external sources must always be used when they are available as it gives credibility to your argument.
- In keeping with blog tradition, the default setting for the NewsBusters blog posting software ensures that all links do not open in a new browser window.
- See Newspapers.
- See Television shows.
- The names of newspapers must be capitalized. No italics are to be used. If a paper does not disclose its city of publication in its title, refer to it as belonging to the city. Thus, the Daily News, printed in New York City, becomes New York's Daily News. Do not capitalize the word the when used in a newspaper's name. When referring to a newspaper you have already referenced, you may refer to it with its short name. In this way, New York Times becomes the Times.
- In a headline, certain famous newspapers may be referenced in abbreviated form. The only papers where this is permissible are the New York Times (NYT), the Washington Post (WaPo), and the Los Angeles Times (LAT).
- Political groups/people.
- Do not endorse or disparage any political group. Restrict adjectives describing such people or individuals to references to their political persuasion. Do not use pejorative language in doing so.
- Neither is permitted in anything written by a NewsBusters contributor. Inside of a quotation, it is permitted if relevant to the article. Avoid quoting profanities in headlines. Censor profanities in lead paragraphs. The proper means of doing this is the first letter of the word followed by the appropriate number of dashes.
- Punctuation marks.
- All punctuation must always be placed inside of quotation marks. Avoid using exclamation points.
- Must always be in proper context and always be accurate. Do not change words within quotation marks as they indicate to the reader, "The person being quoted said exactly this." All quotations of people on television shows or cable coverage must provide the name of the program on which the cited quote aired and/or if during ongoing cable coverage, a time (with time zone noted) within 5 minutes. If you obtained the remark from a web page, you must provide a link to the page to allow others to verify.
If one paragraph or less, quoted statements must be placed in quotation marks and have the same font attributes as the rest of the posting. If multiple paragraphs, the quotation must be indented (there is a button for this on the posting toolbar) and not be surrounded by double quotation marks ("). An exception to is rule is if you are doing a point-by-point rebuttal of something (called "fisking" by some), in which case, short quotations must be indented but not enclosed by double quotation marks.
- Except for two exceptions, state names are always spelled out. Headlines and transcripts are the two exceptions.
In either of these cases, you are to follow the Associated Press Style Manual, available here under the heading "state names."
- Television shows.
- The names of all television shows must be enclosed in double quotation marks (") and follow the capitalization rules listed in the Headlines entry above. No italics are to be used. Show names may be abbreviated after their full name has been used although it is not required. Examples: "CBS Evening News," "Evening," "Days of Our Lives," "Days."
- In headlines, use single quotes (') instead of double quotes.
- If a person has an official title and is identified as such by the news source, you must include this information the first time you refer to the person in a stranscript. In transcripts, all titles are to be in abbreviated form. Only the first letter of a title may be capitalized.
- Some example titles and abbreviations: President (Pres.), Senator (Sen.), Representative (Rep.), Doctor (Dr.), Reverend (Rev.)
- Must always be verbatim unless time is a factor, in which case, a caption dump may be used temporarily with a disclaimer that it may not be accurate. All transcripts must be indented to set them off from the body of a posting. No double quotation marks are to be used to set off people's words.
Speaker names must be in ALL CAPS to facilitate easy reading. The initial words of a person must be accompanied by their full name. If the news source puts any sort of explanatory information underneath the person's name, it must be listed in parentheses during the initial identification. If the person has a title, an abbreviation for it must precede the person's name.
- Note: Do not print titles for show hosts or reporters, only guests.
- Quotations within transcripts are to be enclosed in single quotation marks, not double.
- WOLF BLITZER: How soon should American troops start pulling out of Iraq? That question is now dividing top Democrats. Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry. He's got more on that. Ed.
ED HENRY: Wolf, Democrat John Murtha said today most U.S. troops will have to exit Iraq by the end of next year because in his words, the Army is broken and worn out. But Democrats still remain sharply divided over whether his call for a quick pullout is really a good idea.
Rep. NANCY PELOSI (D-Calif., Minority Leader): Good afternoon.
HENRY: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is now backing John Murtha's push for a quick pullout of U.S. troops and claims a majority of House Democrats agree.
PELOSI: The president is digging a hole in Iraq. It's time for him to stop saying 'I'll be back' when it comes to Iraq.
- Web Sites.
- Refer to a Web site similarly as you would a newspaper. No quotation marks or italics. Do not include oddball capitalization SuCHasTHis or punctuation (i.e. do not use "Yahoo!").
- When refering to words used in a quotation, be sure to surround your reference with quotation marks.
- When referring to a word as linguistic component, put it in italics with no quotation marks.
- Example: Johnson said that he "disagreed." His critics, however, took issue with his definition of disagreed and said that in fact he completely agreed.