Most professionals learn within a few weeks of staring in our industry how sadly common the misuse of terminology is in our segment of affordable housing. In late September 2021, MHProNews reached out to the Associate Press (AP) Stylebook editors. Several questions and issues where brought to their attention. If implemented, they could improve the quality of reporting about manufactured housing related news and events.
Ponder for a few moments how useful it could be to manufactured housing acceptance if terms like “trailer house,” “trailer park,” or “mobile homes” where never mixed up with a HUD Code manufactured home? It has been 45 years since the last mobile home rolled off an assembly line. The trailer house era was years earlier than mobile homes. Only 1 out of 5 of such units exist today in residential use. Yet, even though some 4 out of 5 are manufactured homes, the media routinely gets it wrong. Wouldn’t it be helpful if that matter were properly resolved with thousands of mainstream journalists?
This is where the AP Stylebook opportunity comes in.
Per Wikipedia, the AP Stylebook has been published every year since 1953. This is something that people in communication and media are aware of, but for those who are not, this is useful. “The AP Stylebook, also known by its full name The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, is an American English grammar style and usage guide created by American journalists working for or connected with the Associated Press. Although it is sold as a guide for reporters, it has become the leading reference for most forms of public-facing corporate communication over the last half-century. The Stylebook offers a basic reference to American English grammar, punctuation and principles of reporting, including many definitions and rules for usage as well as styles for capitalization, abbreviation, spelling and numerals.”
As noted, it was with thoughts like that in mind that MHProNews reached out to the editors of the Stylebook. Here are elements of a longer thread of messages. One item is highlighted, because that is in response to a question posed by our publication. Per the AP Stylebook, they have not been contacted by anyone from MHI, nor from one of their state association affiliates.
|from:||AP Stylebook Customer Service|
|reply-to:||AP Stylebook Customer Service @apstylebook.com>|
|to:||L.A. “Tony” Kovach @MHProNews.com|
|date:||Sep 29, 2021, 11:45 AM|
|subject:||Re: Media inquiry to AP Stylebook editor(s)|
Thanks for reaching out, Tony.
As you might expect, we get a huge volume of suggestions and requests from all manner of advocacy groups and trade organizations.
Our editors’ job is to balance the accuracy and specificity that experts in their fields understand with lay language terminology that a general audience will understand. For example, a trade organization has put together an extensive style guide they encourage their members to use and they shared it with us, but we would consider many of those terms jargon and therefore unclear to people outside that field.
Our lead editor is out this week but I’ll share with her for review with her team. I’m not aware that we’ve gotten this request before, but because of the volume of suggestions, it’s possible I just haven’t heard about it.
Often additions or changes take months or more to make it into AP style, if they do at all, because the process involves research, discussion and review, and all the Stylebook editors have other jobs at AP, as well. So I will pass this along but just be prepared that even if the editors agree we need guidance separating these different terms, it could take time to appear publicly.
This is all just for your background, I am not a Stylebook editor and am not the best authority to speak to the status of any possible additions or changes to AP style.
Thank you for reaching out,
AP Stylebook product manager
A series of back and forth follow up messages occurred between AP Stylebook and MHProNews.
- The above makes it clear that other trade and interests groups ask the AP for precisely their these sorts of clarifications that we requested for manufactured housing terminology and related reporting issues.
- Also, the follow ups at no point changed the indications from AP that MHI had ever asked for something like this request.
That noted, most recent reply from the Associated Press (AP), which indicated that this process could take months, said the following.
On Mon, Oct 4, 2021 at 12:12 PM Froke, Paula <PFroke@ap.org> wrote:
Thank you for your note. These issues and questions are on our list to consider. For context, it often is not possible in the heat of breaking news for a reporter to determine which is involved (for instance, was it built before or after June 15, 1976). Determining how to deal with such situations is a challenge.
The reply from MHProNews read as follows.
|from:||L. A. Tony Kovach for MHProNews|
|to:||“Froke, Paula” @ap.org|
|cc:||“Newvine, Colleen” @ap.org
Mark Weiss at MHARR
|date:||Oct 5, 2021, 9:05 AM|
|subject:||Follow up to your response Re: FW: Media inquiry to AP Stylebook editor(s)|
Paula and Collen,
I hear you. However, every HUD Code manufactured home leaves the factory with a HUD label that is found on the ‘tail end’ of the home. Additionally, from a statistical standpoint, some 4 out of 5 such housing units are manufactured homes built after June 15, 1976, vs before – which the earlier ones would be mobile homes.
The point is that the AP Stylebook could provide such insights. The Society of Professional Journalism code of ethics says this:
Seek Truth and
Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Thus, I hope you agree that there are a variety of reasons why correct terminology matters. It is not that complex, so long as media cares about the accuracy of a report.
Thus, my request. Happy to be part of the process, and would be able to share expert insights as needed from myself and/or others.
Thank you. I’m copying Mark Weiss, J.D., President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) to keep him apprised of this request.
L. A. “Tony” Kovach
[Title, contact information, etc. for MHProNews/MHLivingNews] ##
Time will tell. But we hereby publicly challenge MHI and their dominating brands to take up this cause with the AP Stylebook – along with other similar media providers like it – and properly address this swiftly and properly.
Even if they have been apparently asleep at the switch on this for decades, better to step up now that this has been revealed, than to allow this to continue any longer than necessary. ##
Kudos to MHProNews and MHLivingNews
Among the messages that have come on or prior to our 12th anniversary of publication (launched circa 10.15.2009) of what is now called MHProNews, was from a Manufactured Housing Institute and state affiliates member. It made several points, but concluded with a line of thanks for “everything that you do” for manufactured housing.
Another message recalled singing, merriment, and fun while tackling topics that matter.
Other messages and kind and treasured thoughts have come in. From those the following three will be shared for reasons that will become clear.
“HAPPY ANNIVERSARY” to MHProNews.com. I want to give a special thanks to L.A. “Tony” Kovach and team for consolidating facts, integrity, and courage to ensure America receives absolute truth in news reporting. Without you, and MHLivingNews.com, our story [in Ayden, N.C.] for truth and justice in the world of manufactured homes would be yesterday’s news. Your relentless contributions for a better America remain unparalleled.
All the Best,
Reverend Ivory L. Mewborn
Mayor Pro-Tem Ayden, NC
Vice Chair Pitt County Human Relations Council
Each of these are particularly meaningful to us. Being human, every sincere kind word is valued, every insincere or agenda driven message is noted too. Honest critiques are valued and considered.
Here is another kudos.
“Tony, you have long been a reliable source for pro-industry growth efforts. In recent years, as your publication came to see the evidence for what has held our profession back from robust growth, you have dared show what no other trade media or blogger has done, while focusing on facts that are found in and beyond our profession. We salute the work you, Soheyla and Tamas have done to advance the interests of industry growth based on pro-consumer, ethical business ideals.”
Mark Weiss, J.D.,
President and CEO of MHARR
Each of these mean much to us, which is why they are shared. But in a way, because we have at times battled hard yet sincerely, the one that follows merits this added mention. People can disagree and still respect each other. People can disagree, and later come around. I’ve said several times that there are things that I did not see 8 years ago that I see differently today. I share this because if it happened to me after well over 2 decades in manufactured homes, it can happen for you or others too.
Congratulations to you, Soheyla and all involved on the twelfth-year anniversary of your publication, MHProNews. Also, congratulations to you personally for your fair and objective reporting, daring to tackle tough issues that are considered taboo and untouchable to the timid.
In an industry where many people with decision-making powers cover-up their continuing failures by spinning the truth, and try to convince their constituency that “go along to get along” is normal and somehow a virtue, your constant probing, investigative reporting and truth-telling are a breath of fresh air and most beneficial to your readers.
I say this based on decades of my personal experience with our industry’s hardworking, honest, and trusting people who wish nothing more than factual and accurate information on issues that would make or break their businesses.
You and your publication are doing an invaluable service to the Manufactured Housing Industry, its businesses, and its consumers. Additionally, one must mention the importance of preserving the rich history of our profession for the next generation.
Keep up the good work and don’t be deterred by your critics. Because in addition to your regular readers, you have a huge audience out there that I refer to as “MHProNews closet readers” who depend on your publication for the industry’s factual and accurate information.
With best wishes,
Danny Ghorbani ##
Danny, of course, was the founder of MHARR – originally AAR, the Association for Regulatory Reform. He has a unique insider’s view from MHI, with trade shows, development of hundreds of thousands of manufactured homesites, and over 4 decades with MHARR.
Of course, over the years, some at MHI praised us too before the decided that our questions and probing were apparently too difficult to address.
As a bit of irony, MHI’s signage speaks volumes about those who claim to do industry news – and have been allowed to stay in their wonderful ranks.
The truth can come out any number of ways and often in surprising times.
Our sincere thanks to God and to all who have been part – or continue to make – this odyssey in manufactured housing trade publishing possible. We continue to believe in truth telling and holding the powerful to account. It is our sincere belief that the evidence is clear that our industry is being artificially suppressed by forces outside and in. While all of it matters, perhaps in some sense, the worst of all is to be betrayed by those who are supposed to be fighting for the industry, but fail to do so in an authentic and effective fashion.
Our 13th year of publishing aims to tackle those forces in ways that, with God’s help, will move the needle ahead. Stay tuned for what’s next. The adventure continues. ##
Stay tuned for more of what is ‘behind the curtains’ as well as what is obvious and in your face reporting that are not found anywhere else in MHVille. It is all here, which may explain why this is the runaway largest and most-read source for authentic manufactured home “News through the lens of manufactured homes and factory-built housing” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)
By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHProNews.com.
Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing.
For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com.
This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.
Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach
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