I was terrified my first night writing for Deadspin. I wanted direction: somebody to tell me what to write about, how to write about it, and then to edit it when I was done. Instead, I was thrown into the deep end and basically told "if you see something interesting write about it, or don't, whatever." I didn't know how to find interesting stories, or how to then determine if they truly were interesting for Deadspin's audience. Six months later I relish the freedom, but at the time I wanted my hand held. I wrote some shit about football, I think.
Once it became clear that I wasn't going to get much assistance with the creative aspect of my job, I figured I could at least get some guidance on the mechanics. Nope. I asked for the Deadspin or Gawker Media style guide, and was told there wasn't any such thing. Instead, Tommy Craggs rattled off a couple of things that I put into a Google Doc:
- Titles are WSJ-style, every word capitalized. Only 70 characters.
- Italicize newspapers and magazines.
- Serial commas.
- "s's" possessive.
- Relevant links at the bottom of the post in brackets.
- When in doubt: AP Style.
If you go read Deadspin, however, I'm sure you'll find numerous stories that fail to adhere to even these scant "rules." Unlike the Associated Press Stylebook, which just made significant changes to its chapter on sportswriting, we are pretty informal around here. We generally don't believe in rigid rules governing our journalism, to say nothing of style best practices. Instead, if somebody has a style question they are unsure about, they drop it into our work chatroom and whoever is around discusses it.
Here are some of those style discussions from the past month or so.
Burneko's style question: Is it FOX or Fox?
Greg Howard: fox
Kevin Draper: Yeah we don't do HEAT either
Kevin Draper: Or Yahoo!
Burneko: ok cool
barry: We never style things the way companies want us to
Kyle's style question: v. buttfucking / butt-fucking
Kevin Draper: buttfucking
Jolie Kerr: yeah, we went with buttsex so I think buttfucking follows
leslie horn: buttfucking for sure
Barry's style question: Style Q. "Sucker Punch"— hyphenate, or no?
harvilla: hyphen i think?
Jolie's style question: Can I use nightsweats as one word, please?
Burneko: i think so, jolie
Jolie Kerr: ty
Burneko: it's funnier as one word
Marchman's style question: The AP has bungled their rules on Washington, so I turn to our DC people. What is the correct styling? Washington, D.C? Washington DC? Washington D.C.?
Burneko: C, i think
Burneko:oh, wait, no, i think it's A
harvilla: i think it's A but the comma is annoying
Burneko: except with a period after the C in D.C.
Verdict: Washington, D.C.
Jolie's style question: oz. or ounce in ingredients lists?
Tim Burke: ounce
Tim Burke: Use the abbreviation oz in text only when the unit is preceded by a number; the same abbreviation is used for the singular and plural forms. The abbreviation is not followed by a period unless it ends a sentence. Ounce may be used if it seems to better fit the context.
Jolie's style question: Do disclosures go in brackets or parens?
Samer: i don't know if anyone has a different opinion
Samer: or normally it's in italics?
Jolie Kerr: I'll use one of each and see if Dob notices
Verdict: No verdict
Leslie's style question: Do we say aka or a.k.a.?
marchman: It's a free for all
marchman: It should be a.k.a.
leslie horn: k
marchman: But it's important to follow your heart
leslie horn: in life as in blogs
Samer: aka is for animals tho
Verdict: a.k.a., except when used for animals or if your heart says otherwise
Barry's style question: Decommits" or "De-Commits" (it's in a hed)
davemc: i vote firsty, barry
Samer: De-Commits looks weird
barry: sounds good
Marchman's style question: Ital radio show titles?
barry: I would say quotation marks
Samer: i used italics once i think
Samer: it's a show
kyle: i used ital over the weekend. i thought show names were ital?
Verdict: Probably italics
Tom's style question: Faceplant or face plant
Greg Howard: 1
leslie horn: 1
Samer: is it a verb or noun
Tom Ley: verb
kyle: 1, verb or not
Samer: i guess 1 but hyphen looks better
Greg Howard: it's 1 tho
marchman: Face plant sounds like some weird thing you have to gather to make potions in Dragon Age
Burneko: yeah, and hyphenating it makes it seem like it might actually grow out of your face
Barry's style question: Style guide: layup or lay-up?
Tom Ley: layup
Greg Howard: layup?
A Deadspin style discussion
Diana Moskovitz: toasting to dad's with sex on the beaches is ... weird
Diana Moskovitz: to our dad's, who had sex on the beach and made us!
Will Gordon: D, official house style is sexes on the beach
Will Gordon: otherwise, you raise a good point
Verdict: Sexes on the beach
A Gawker Media-wide style rule
Lacey: can we please, for the love of all that's holy, stop using the word DOUCHE in heds?
Lacey: it's a rule we've let slide, but AJ was right to ban it.
Lacey: let's re-ban it.
Lacey: thank you, have a nice day.
Lacey: if it disappears from the sites, i'll try to make sure we can get light beer at the stand ups.
Lacey: and i'll look into a candy bowl.
Lacey: but good god, STOP IT WITH DOUCHE.
Verdict: No using douche in headlines, Rob
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