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The Privacy Advisor | Changes are afoot for the IAPP publications Related reading: Introducing Belgium’s first DPA


No, it wasn’t just coming back from a holiday break: There actually was something different about the Daily Dashboard yesterday. After three years of internal lobbying, I have managed to convince the building that the IAPP publications team should use AP Style.

What’s AP Style? It’s the style of journalistic writing, punctuation, spelling and decision-making created by the Associated Press with a goal of being “clear and concise and understandable around the globe, no matter what the news is or where it happens.”

With more than a million annual views of our articles, many of them breaking news items, the IAPP has very much become a news organization and, as a journalist with 15 years on the job, it is important to me that we hold ourselves to the highest standards of communication with our global readership.

Some of the changes you’ll notice right away. No longer do we use title case in our headlines. Goodbye italics (and we won’t miss you). The city of Washington can now stand alone, with no more little “D.C.” tagalong. Because you know which Washington we’re talking about.

Other pieces of the AP Stylebook we’ve already adopted and will continue to emulate. We abhor inaccuracy, carelessness, bias and distortions. We identify ourselves as journalists when we attend events. We avoid unnamed sources.

There will be some deviations, however, as makes sense as part of what we do here at the IAPP. There is an obvious conflict of interest when we write about our own events or happenings, for example. But I can assure you that we firmly believe that coverage of our events and developments at the organization like our ISO accreditation serves our mission here on the publications team: To provide you, our members and readers, with information that you can use to do your jobs better.

If we’re covering something that was said or done at one of our events, or if we’re previewing one of our events, it’s because we firmly believe that you would want the information available to you.

What we will not do, and what we have never done, is write about a vendor or sponsor of an IAPP event as part of some kind of quid pro quo arrangement. If we are writing about a vendor or sponsor, it is because, again, we feel you would want the information to help you do your job better. It’s news. We do sometimes run “sponsored” content, and that content is appropriately identified and must still meet our standards of providing information we believe to be genuinely useful.

Hopefully, all of this leads to a better reading and learning experience for you, our readers. It has certainly created a long, long thread on our internal publications team discussion board. There may be a few bumps in the road as we transition, but I am confident it is for the best.

As always, thanks for reading, and we welcome your feedback.


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  • comment Allison Dolan • Jan 9, 2016
    I hope that the standards do not include using lower case for acronyms longer than 4 characters.  I cringe every time I see Hippa.
  • comment Sam • Jan 12, 2016
    I believe the rule is more than six letters. There shouldn't be to many of those, though. HIPAA is safe. And, like we do here in the pubs team, watch out for making HIPAA into a HIPPO...
  • comment Michael Whitener • Jan 18, 2016
    And no Oxford comma, as you nicely illustrate in your article. Hooray!
    But will "The Privacy Advisor" become "The Privacy Adviser"?