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February 16, 2009

Ottawa Citizen set to drop honorifics

Next week, the Ottawa Citizen will stop using honorifics -- the use of "Mr.", "Mrs.", "Dr.", etc. According to writer Tom Spears on the Dark Matter Science blog:
In 10 days we will stop using honorifics.
Citizen management has decided that after a dozen years, all references to Mr. and Mrs. and Dr. and so on will go. (I'm not sure about Adrienne Clarkson, who singled herself out by using "Mme" in English.)
Anyway, it's back to the more common newspaper style. A news story will talk about Joe Smith on the first reference, and just Smith thereafter - unless there are a whole lot of Smiths and we have to distinguish among them.
I've never mentioned this in print, but honorifics drove some scientists in this town over the edge. You see, the rule book for this paper was that a person who treats patients - a medical doctor or dentist - was called Dr. Smith in our pages. A PhD researcher was Mr. or Ms. Smith.
Some chemists and physicists and biologists didn't care. Some boiled.
"I never would have talked to you if I'd known you would call me that," a prominent University of Ottawa chemistry professor told me some time back.
Other stopped short of this ultimatum, but let me know they weren't happy. It made them tough to interview.
Related: Ottawa Newspapers Guide

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing such valuable article on Honorific drop to Ottawa citizen. I never would have talked to you if I'd known you would call me that.


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