Change Has Come to Mother Jones’ Style Guide: Biden-Harris in, Trump-Pence Out

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It’s not every day, or year, or four years, that I’m booting a president from our newsroom’s style guide. On Saturday, after multiple news organizations declared Biden-Harris the winning ticket of the presidential election, what choice did I have but to open our style guide, click “edit,” and enshrine the people’s will?

Before:

Capitalize formal titles only when they precede a person’s name: President Trump, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Lowercase informal titles (e.g., special counsel Robert Mueller).

After:

Capitalize formal titles only when they precede a person’s name: President-elect Biden, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Lowercase informal titles (e.g., special counsel Robert Mueller).

Before:

airstrike
a.m., p.m.
American Dream
“Amtrak Joe” Biden
antifa
Arafat, Yasser
archaeologist

After:

airstrike
a.m., p.m.
American Dream
“Amtrak Joe” Biden, President-elect Biden
antifa
Arafat, Yasser
archaeologist

Plus:

• President-elect Biden (lowercase “elect”) in running copy; President-Elect Biden in headlines
• Vice President–elect Harris (en dash, option+hyphen); Vice President–Elect Harris in headlines
• Lowercase titles when not preceding names: The president-elect tweeted. If a spoken quote has “Madam Vice President,” Madam not Madame.

Had to be done. Trump is still president for the next 10 weeks, so bear in mind that “lame-duck” gets hyphenated as an adjective, and stays open as a noun. And these things matter, like when Fox News told its anchors not to call Biden “president-elect” when it called the race, according to two internal memos, before the network changed its tune in the face of overwhelming facts. Read our style guide, and send suggestions, here.

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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