Why we are dropping the use of honorifics

SOON you will begin noticing that on Brunswick Voice we will no longer be using some traditional honorifics such as Mr and Ms before people’s surnames in stories.

In deciding to drop honorifics, we have considered the practice at a growing number of other publications including The Guardian and The Age, which have already done so.

Honorifics have evolved over the years. Several decades ago, serious newspapers never referred to a person’s first name in a news story, so the Prime Minister would be simply reported as Mr [last name]. But there has never been consistent adoption of the practice. Sportspeople and artists have traditionally always been referred to just by their surname.

Removing most honorifics reflects changing public attitudes, including an increasing proportion of people who do not wish to be identified by a single gender and may use the personal pronouns of they/them. Titles such as Mr or Ms are not appropriate in these circumstances, and while we could have adopted a new honorific such as Mx or Misc, it was more logical to remove them altogether.

We will continue to use honorifics when they are associated with a person’s role or career, such as Dr, Cr, Professor or Constable.

If you have feedback on this change, please do not hesitate to get in touch.