Age and gender confusion at the Olympics

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Aug 16 13:19:54 UTC 2008

Only after sending my previous message did it
occur to me that the Boston Globe is apparently
violating a related New York Times style
rule.  As Corbett also wrote in 2007, in further
comment about the "Ms." question:

"Aside from these inquiries about "Ms.," I've
been surprised not to get more questions about
our use of courtesy titles. After all, our
continued insistence on Mr., Ms., Dr., etc., is
perhaps our most obvious stylistic difference
from other news organizations, which generally
use bare surnames for second references to
people. The Times's style seems strange, at
first, to every reporter or editor coming here from another paper.
I don't know whether the lack of comment in this
forum reflects approval of the courtesy titles,
or just familiarity or apathy. I do hear
occasionally from reporters who'd like to drop
them. Most recently, when we reduced the width of
our pages, several people suggested eliminating
courtesy titles to save space (it wouldn't really help).

"Perhaps I'm tradition-bound, but this is one
quirk of Times style that I would go to some
lengths to defend. We strive for a tone that is
literate, civil and serious: not fussy or
old-fashioned, but also not chatty or
self-consciously hip. It's not an easy balance,
and we don't always get it right. But I think the
simple use of courtesy titles — whether it's "Mr.
Bush," "Mrs. Clinton" or "Ms. Rivera, a teacher
from Queens" — injects a note of thoughtfulness
and civility into our pages. Amid the daily
cacophony, that seems a worthy effort."

At 8/16/2008 09:11 AM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>And in "Talk to the Newsroom: Deputy News Editor Philip B. Corbett",
>published Oct. 29, 2007, on page 8 of 13:
>"A. Our style is to use "Ms." unless a woman chooses to use "Mrs." or
>"Miss." That rule applies both to private individuals and to public figures.

The American Dialect Society -

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