The Wall Street Journal is ending its use of honorifics, leaving The New York Times as one of the very few news organizations that still describe someone with Mr., Ms., etc., on second reference.
Editor-in-chief Emma Tucker writes that “the trend among almost all news organizations and magazines has been to go without, as editors have concluded that the titles in news articles are becoming a vestige of a more-formal past, and that the flood of Mr., Ms., Mx. or Mrs. in sentences can slow down readers’ enjoyment of our writing.” An exception will be made for “occupational titles” such as Gen., Sen. or Dr. As is the case with AP style, Dr. will be reserved for medical doctors.
The Journal also offers this bit of silliness:
Honorifics have dishonorable aspects in history. At the worst, some newspapers had a practice to use courtesy titles for white people only. There were also courtesy-title policies that were sexist: Some newspapers in the past gave courtesy titles only to women, which had the effect of identifying women as either a Mrs. or Miss; meanwhile, the format for couples was Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.
All true, of course, but if you use honorifics without regard to race or gender, as the Journal, the Times and others have for many years, then the problem goes away.
I posted a query on Mastodon and Twitter to find news organizations other than the Times that still use honorifics and came up with an extremely short list. If you know of any others, please post it in the comments.
- The Christian Science Monitor
- The New York Sun
- The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- The Blade of Toledo
The Post-Gazette and the Blade share common ownership.
- BBC News
- The Economist
- The Watertown (N.Y.) Daily Times and other Johnson newspapers