2 Pages

court reporting: titles

For some years there has been a weakening of the long-time convention of news reporting from the courts that the accused lost their titles, in particular the simple prefixes ‘Mr, Mrs and Miss’ and their younger relative ‘Ms’. The law says nothing about it, and some news organisations, encouraged by a body of committed outside opinion, have embraced the policy that ‘Wilson’ is ‘MrWilson’ unless and until he is found guilty. Older journalists tend to feel more comfortable when telling the public of alleged misdeed that plain ‘Wilson’ is accused of it. The old convention was easier in that under the better mannered policy ‘Mr Wilson’ none the less pointedly becomes unadorned ‘Wilson’ on guilty verdict although media publicity and loss of title, while part of shame, are no part of legal punishment.