The Associated Press has long acknowledged what one historian called the “maddeningly imprecise” information about its origins. In 2005, for instance, the great-great-grandson of one of its founders turned up documents that showed the AP was actually formed in 1846, not 1848.

Now comes another twist in the AP story. Kristal Brent Zook, who runs the MA journalism program at Hofstra University, last year unearthed The Reporter’s Manual: A Handbook for Newspaper Men while researching her next book.

The first complete AP Stylebook was thought to have been published in 1953. But this long-forgotten version, by John Palmer Gavit, the AP’s man in Albany, New York, dates to 1903. The AP updates its Stylebook each year, but it’s surely been a while since it advised a reporter who finds himself on assignment without a notepad to use “his cuffs, shirt bosom, the fly-leaf from a book, a box cover, or piece of board or shingle.”

The full story of Zook’s discovery is at cjr.org/behind_the_news/zook.php.

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