Wall Street Journal Dropping ‘Courtesy Titles’ From Sports Section When Referencing Athletes


Sports junkies be warned. The Wall Street Journal is turning its journalistic style on its head and dropping "courtesy titles" from its sports section.

The Journal says themselves that, starting this week, "Mr." or "Ms." will no longer be used to address athletes. The Journal has had a tradition of using "honorific" courtesy titles in all of its stories, sports included.

Now, the Journal will follow the format that most sports media outlets use — after the athlete is first referenced in a story by their full name, they are subsequently referred to by just their last name. Marc Savard, for example, is referred to as "Savard" after the first reference of his name. The old Journal style would refer to him as, "Mr. Savard."

"The Journal's editors believe that readers of the paper's sports pages will appreciate the last-names-only update," Jason Gay writes in WSJ.

It seems simple, but the crew at the Journal finds this switch monumental.

The Journal has received several questions about their specific style over the years. New York Giants offensive lineman Rich Seubert once asked Journal football writer Aditi Kinkhabwala, "Why do you call Eli 'Mr. Manning?'"

Even well-known sportswriter Frank Deford compared Journal sports writers to Jane Austen on NPR. 

A WSJ.com web survey from a few months ago showed Journal readers are in favor of keeping the honorifics.The honorifics are old-fashioned and distinct, but for now they are gone. Gay says he enjoys them and he wouldn't be surprised if they crept their way back in the future.

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