Faster asks what’s going on when, in professional print and web news sources, proper nouns such as State Department and Secretary of State are often written all in lower case.
Now and then, that might be down to low-quality proof readers, but when it’s consistent, it’s down to the writers and worse, sub-editors – in publishing, style is one of the main responsibilities of sub-editors. Many modern writers and sub-editors think it’s much more important to appear stylish than to follow any rules of style except their own.
A specific publication might have special rules, and even their own “rules” often depend more on what colour socks they’re wearing today. Be very careful about any “rules” in print, whether on paper or on the WWW.
For a very obvious – if distantly related – example, consider acronyms, including your own FBI. Once upon a time bodies, like the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were always abbreviated NATO and items such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBM. In just the last few years, acronyms that can readily be pronounced as real words – such as NATO – seem as, if not more, likely to be printed Nato. Whether that’s really sensible is a matter of opinion, but that acronyms which don’t work as real words – such as ICBM or FBI – should, for that reason, be treated differently and allowed to keep their full capitalisation seems more perverse.
More relevantly, today’s media frequently uses forms like Lord Fred Blogs – or vaguely more respectfully, Lord Frederick Blogs – when the man is actually Fred, Lord Blogs. Huge numbers of ears don’t notice the difference, but it’s very like referring to a knight as Sir Blogs instead of Sir Fred or a lady as Dame Family rather than Dame Firstname; always wrong, but who cares, today?
For a real underlying guide, trust either Debrett’s Correct Form or an office edition of Webster’s Dictionary – the church-Bible size.