Thursday, January 26, 2006

What's up doc?

This story in today's Star generated a few e-mails accusing us of not giving female professionals proper respect. Namely, readers questioned why Dr. Catherine Betor was referred to as "Mrs. Betor" on second reference. Here is the e-mail response I sent out (the comment about my wife, a district court judge, comes from her questioning me on this point when she was referred to as Mrs. Foster on second reference in a story in The Star):

Your question is valid and comes up from time to time.
Our policy on using courtesy titles exists mainly to distinguish between men and women.
We do not refer to Drs. -- either men or women -- on second reference.
If there had been a second reference to Dr. Hamrick, it would have been "Hamrick said ..." etc.
Here's the first file story I came up with on a search to illustrate that point --
As you can see Dr. Fortkort is simply "Fortkort" on second reference. This is consistent with Associated Press style.
So, to refer to Catherine on second reference as a Dr., and then not to use that designation for male doctors, would be confusing.
Instead, we refer to female doctors as Dr. on first reference -- so their professional status is clear -- then as "Mrs." on second reference so people know we are talking about a women not a man. This is also consistent with our overall policy of using courtesy titles for women.
Is it perfect? Hardly. But we think it's the best way to convey information to readers. I think there should be no doubt that Catherine is a doctor and a "she" from this story, which is the main point.
This rule, ahem, also applies to women judges (if it seems like I've had to make this case before, maybe even in my own home, you're right!!!)
Bottom line: Women doctors and other professionals DO receive the same amount of respect as male counterparts by using this policy.
Take care,

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Final thoughts on Chief VanHoy

One character trait often praised in people is trustworthiness. It’s an excellent trait, for sure.

But what I admired in Charlie VanHoy was not that he could be trusted but that he could trust.

Charlie and I developed a professional relationship built on that trust.

Mainly, it was him trusting me.

He hadn’t had a particularly good relationship with some in our business before I arrived in Shelby in 1997, but former City Manager Dee Freeman facilitated a meeting between us. During that meeting, I could see it churning through his brain — "I need to give this kid a chance."

I’m glad he did, mainly because I had no idea what I was doing and what I could do to improve the newspaper’s relationship with the police department.

As time wore on, Charlie and I would talk just to talk – about the issues of the day, foreign and domestic, state and local, city and county.

He had plenty of opinions. There were things about "the system" that he loathed and wished he could change. There were people in the county who frustrated him.

As I came to find out, trusting others was a halmark of Charlie’s.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cool thing on our web site from Burns High

Check out this feature where you can see the before and after of the head shavings of Burns teachers as part of a fund-raiser.

(OK, I PROMISE to do better about updating this blog).