Friday, March 20, 2009

Either Way, They Got Some Crazy Little Women There


"Kansas City" alone is often ambiguous, and so I would not include it on a list of "dateline cities." For every person who thinks it's obvious that a reference with no state means the much larger one, in Missouri, there's probably, oh, I don't know, a third of a person who thinks it's obvious that it means the one in the eponymous state.

But here's an example of why the dateline-city thing, like all style guidelines, is only a guideline:
RAYTOWN, Mo. — Police say that the bodies of four people have been found in an apartment near Kansas City and that they suspect foul play. Police are trying to confirm the identities of the dead, including two preteen boys.

No need to say "Kansas City, Mo." when (a) we already know the suburb is in Missouri and (b) if it's near the one in Missouri, it's also near the one in Kansas.

8 comments:

Nick said...

At The Wichita Eagle, our style makes a clear distinction between "Kansas City" the metropolitan area and the dual Kansas Cities in Missouri and Kansas.

More often than not, when a local person talks about "Kansas City," they're talking about the sprawling metropolitan area generally, and not specifically about a municipality named Kansas City. When I say I'm going to visit my sister-in-law "in Kansas City," I'm actually planning a trip to Lenexa, Kan. If I'm planning a shopping trip "to Kansas City," I'll probably do a little shopping in Kansas City, Mo., Kansas City, Kan., and Leawood, Kan. When you're talking about Sprint headquarters "in Kansas City," you're really talking about the company's campus in Overland Park, Kan.

Long story short, outside of datelines, there's often _no need_ to add the state to Kansas City. It is one place that happens to straddle two states.

Bill said...

What he said.

JByrd said...

But what about Las Vegas, New Mexico?

Bill said...

Ha. I remember when the existence of that New Mexico town led some to justify "Las Vegas, Nevada, gambling" in the name of AP style.

JD (The Engine Room) said...

Might be a stupid question, but what's a dateline city?

Bill said...

A dateline city is one that isn't supposed to be routinely accompanied by its state or country. Whereas it's "Lyon, France," it's "Paris." Whereas it's "Rochester, N.Y.," it's just "New York" for the city.

Michael said...

Is there a list of such cities without states/countries? Is this like one word people like Madonna or Prince?
What about Paris, Kentucky?
Also, I agree with Nick.

Roy said...

I no longer care. Of course, I don't write news articles, but when speaking or writing to people who are not from around here, I just say Kansas City. If they are savvy enough to wonder, I explain. For Kansas Citians, I add the state when I mean Kansas City, Kansas. Seems to work.

I just thought of something. If you Google "kansas city" on Google Maps, up pops the map for Kansas City, MO. Whatever that implies.