"Fake news" has finally made its way to the AP Stylebook.

On Friday, as the White House's attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act imploded, the Associated Press notified newsrooms that its stylebook had formally addressed the issue of hoax reporting.

"Holding politicians and public figures accountable for their words often requires reporting or research to verify facts that affirm or disprove a statement, or that show a gray area," the AP update read.

"Fact-checking also is essential in debunking fabricated stories or parts of stories done as hoaxes, propaganda, jokes or for other reasons, often spread widely on the internet and mistaken as truth by some news consumers."

There is a difference between sloppy reporting and "fake news," which has been a major point of discussion in media since President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8

The former comes from carelessness, laziness or prejudice, while the latter is deliberately false, and is often created for profit or as part of a disinformation campaign.

The AP recognizes this, and recommended Friday that journalists proceed accordingly.

"The term fake news may be used in quotes or as shorthand for the modern phenomenon of deliberate falsehoods or fiction masked as news circulating on the internet," the Stylebook explained.

It added, "However, do not label as fake news specific or individual news items that are disputed. If fake news is used in a quote, push for specifics about what is meant. Alternative wording includes false reports, erroneous reports, unverified reports, questionable reports, disputed reports or false reporting, depending on the context."

The AP also offered advice for basic fact-checking, which should come in handy considering the current administration's easy relationship with the truth.

"In all cases, the goal of fact-checking is to push back on falsehoods, exaggeration and political spin. Be specific in describing what is false and back up those descriptions with facts," the notice read.

"Basic fact-checking should always be part of the main story, including wording noting when an assertion differs with known facts. Often, however, additional reporting is required to explore disputed points or questions more fully. In those cases, a separate fact check piece should be done," it added.

The notice included some additional points for consideration:

- Present the assertion that's being checked, and quickly state what's wrong with it or what is correct. Use the exact quote or quotes that are being examined. Follow with the facts, backed by appropriate citations and attribution.
- Present the assertion that's being checked, and quickly state what's wrong with it or what is correct. Use the exact quote or quotes that are being examined. Follow with the facts, backed by appropriate citations and attribution.
- Stick to checking facts, rather than opinion. A person's personal tastes and preferences might lie outside the mainstream, but as opinions they are not a topic for a fact check.
- Fact checks need not show statements to be clearly correct or clearly incorrect. Words can be true, false, exaggerated, a stretch, a selective use of data, partly or mostly true, etc. Use the most apt description that's supported by what the facts show.
- If a statement can't be confirmed, or can't be immediately confirmed, say so.

Known formally as the "The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law," the guide is used by hundreds of newsrooms, including the Washington Examiner's, as a sort of official guide to grammar style and usage.

Spokespersons for the AP did not respond to the Examiner's requests for comment.