The Associated Press is changing its style on first references to U.S. presidents. As noted at Ask the Stylebook, these leaders will now get a first name. So instead of President Obama, you will see President Barack Obama in wire copy.
The obvious question to any style change is why? And why now? This one in particular drew those questions. The answer may be in this comment at Romenesko from Burt Herman of the AP:
The reason for the AP style change has nothing to do with Obama personally. It’s simply that the style has been different for U.S. presidents only for the U.S. wire. In the rest of the world, the AP always used the full name of the U.S. president, but only his last name in the U.S. As the AP unifies the style of its wires worldwide, it makes no sense to make an exception for the U.S. president. This should have been explained in the cryptic AP statement.
So the style has gone global, which seems like a reasonable decision by the AP in this age. Read more background and reaction here from Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
UPDATE: Read more reaction at the discussion board of the American Copy Editors Society.