Every news operation should have a style guide, but as anyone whose ever written one can tell you, the writing can be frustrating and unrewarding.
ADVANTAGES OF A STYLE GUIDE
Aside from the obvious benefit of having everyone working off the same page, one of the biggest benefits of a style guide is the Writing Guidelines.
In her blog, Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World, Deb Halpern Wenger says, “One of the criticisms leveled at TV news sites is the hit-or-miss quality of the writing. Part of the problem, as many in the broadcast industry freely admit, is a discomfort with or lack of knowledge about writing in “print style.”
Luckily, some forward thinking news organizations put their style guides online and they are generally loaded with help for punctuation, titles, capitalization rules, etc.
Times of London: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/tools_and_services/specials/style_guide/
BBC (pdf): http://www.bbctraining.com/pdfs/newsstyleguide.pdf
AP sells its style book: http://www.apstylebook.com/?do=product&pid=978-0-917360-53-4
Why share this stuff? Dean Wright, Global Editor for Ethics, Innovation and News Standards says transparency, service, and geography are behind Reuters decision to publish their styleguide.
“As we’ve seen over the past decade, the barriers to publishing have dropped so that anyone with an idea and a computer can be a publisher. But it’s also become clear that publishers have a varying standard of truth, fairness and style. Our handbook is a good place for budding journalists to begin. Reuters serves a global audience and the handbook recognises the cultural and political differences that our journalists face in reporting for the world.”