WSJ Drops Honorifics Like 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.'

The paper already stopped using honorifics in other publications and sports reporting
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted May 17, 2023 7:25 PM CDT
Wall Street Journal Will Stop Using 'Mr.' and 'Mrs.'
   (Getty Images / Nikolaev)

In an evolution of journalism standards, high-profile news publications are modifying their editorial style when it comes to the use of honorifics. Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Emma Tucker announced Tuesday that from now on, the paper will only use honorifics in direct quotes and certain other exceptions, moving away from its traditional practice of using courtesy titles in subsequent references to individuals ("Mr.," "Mrs.," "Dr.," etc.). According to Tucker, this change is intended to streamline the reader's experience and align the newspaper more closely with contemporary language usage. There will be exceptions, though, according to Tucker, who said "titles such as Gen., Sen. and Dr. (for medical doctors) will still be used, but on first reference only."

The Journal's "Style and Substance" bulletin explains the changes in detail, noting that "honorifics have dishonorable aspects in history. At the worst, some newspapers had a practice to use courtesy titles for white people only." The 134-year-old newspaper's decision reflects a broader trend within the industry, with the New York Times having made a similar, though more limited change several years prior. As the Observer noted in 2018, the Times ceased using honorifics in its pop culture coverage only, citing the evolving nature of language and the need to maintain a more conversational tone. (More Wall Street Journal stories.)

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