AP Stylebook? I don't need no AP Stylebook.
June 29, 2007 4:21 AM Subscribe
Journalistic standards aside, should I use my subject's first or last name in a magazine profile?
posted by SashaPT to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I write and edit a college magazine and I'm working on an alumni profile for the upcoming issue.
Throughout the first draft of the piece, I've referred to the subject by her first name (as in "Mary is the vice president of blah blah" rather than "Jones is the president of blah blah").
I know that goes against AP style and "real" journalism, but part of me wants our magazine to be informal and approachable. It's not the NYT. On the other hand, I want the magazine to be a good reflection on the school. I also want to be respectful of my interview subject and I'm wondering if I just think of her as "Mary" because we are acquaintances outside of the interviewer/subject relationship. (I'm also checking myself on the whole "Hilary" factor and hoping I'm not calling her "Mary" just because she's a woman.)
What perhaps further complicates the situation is that the profile also discusses her brother, who is kind of famous to the point where he would be known to many by his first name, and her husband, who shares her last name and also has some public recognition. So in one article there would be references to Mary Smith Jones, her brother Gary Smith (but he's just "Gary," no last name required) and her husband Tommy Jones. It seemed less confusing to the reader to use first names, but I also don't want us to look like a hick rag.
Your thoughts? My email's in my profile if you'd like to contact me offline.