No Disrespect Intended

Since the publication of an article on the front page of The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Jan. 22,  The Brenau Update has had several employees inquire about why The Journal referred to President Ed Schrader in second reference as “Mr. Schrader” instead of “Dr. Schrader.” Was it an  intentional slight?

The answer is simple: There was no slight to Schrader, but it was intentional. It is The Journal’s “style” to use Dr. as an honorific usually only in reference to medical doctors.

Style, in this case, refers to a publication or institution’s rules for writing, and those rules often vary from place to place. It is Brenau style, for example, to avoid use of honorifics altogether, as you see in the previous paragraph. There are exceptions, of course, but Brenau’s long-standing style is based on the even-longer-standing Associated Press style, which is used – at least as a basis – by many publications and institutions throughout the world for the sake of consistency. AP’s rule on honorifics is this: “Avoid the abbreviations and use descriptions instead, e.g. Harold Smith, a physician, and Robert Jones, who holds a doctorate in biology…” In follow-ups, AP would use the surnames alone without Dr.

Some publications, like The Journal and The New York Times, do vary from the AP style and use some honorifics in second references – hence the use of Mr. Schrader. However, they also have some exceptions – like avoiding use of honorifics at all in cases of stories about convicted criminals or sports figures.

Meanwhile, the article quoting Mr. Schrader was a good story. Did we mention that it was on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, which has the largest U.S. newspaper circulation at 2.4 million subscribers, including more than 900,000 online subscribers around the world?  Take a look at it online (we hope this link will get you through the publication’s paywall, but if it doesn’t, check with the library for a download).