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New York Times Discovers Watts Towers, Still Struggles With Acronyms

In an otherwise decent enough piece by Adam Nagourney in yesterday’s New York Times about the uncertain fate of the Watts Towers, we couldn’t help notice a few things. Both the reference in the hed to the Towers as “hidden” and notion in the body of the piece that Europeans and global sophisticates flock to the towers while Angelenos are too dumb to notice, struck us as a bit odd. We haven’t met a single Angeleno who doesn’t know about the Watts Towers, or who learned about them from some effete Frenchie.

But the main thing we found bizzare is the Times’ continued reference to the LA County Museum of Arts as “Lacma,” instead of “LACMA.” Lord knows we here at Fishbowl LA are no copy editors. But it’s been bothering the crap out of us.

This question over acronyms actually comes up more often than you think it would. Then-NYT public editor Clark Hoyt covered the Times‘ acronym debacle back in 2009. He wrote that the NYT style guide demands acronyms longer than four letters cannot be rendered entirely in capital letters.

“I think the rule on acronyms is too rigid; it leaves The Times virtually alone in calling UNESCO Unesco, UNICEF Unicef and, my personal pet peeve because I am a fan, NASCAR Nascar. Maybe people who read only The Times are used to these, but most people in the Internet age get news from many sources, and The Times stands out as weird and maybe clueless.”

Indeed. Looks like the Times sat on its thumbs for the past two years on Hoyt’s suggestions. Might be time to get on them, because the whole Lacma thing is weird.

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