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Globe and Mail Public Editor Sylvia Stead.The Globe and Mail

A recent story about tax law was criticized for a mistake about a name by one of the story subjects and she was right.

The reporter spoke to three experts about whether Olympic medalists should be taxed for their bonuses they received if they made the podium. The experts were all referred to as Mr. or Ms. in the article even though one of them, Lindsay Tedds, is identified as associate professor at the University of Victoria's school of public administration. She should have been described as either Prof. or Dr. on second reference.

Dr. Tedds is a regular source and writer for The Globe and Mail on tax and economic issues. She is always referred to as an associate professor, but not always as Dr.

By my search, she has been referred to as Dr. Tedds in two articles, Prof. Tedds in one and Ms. Tedds in the above article and two others.

She wrote about the error of calling her Ms. in her blog and noted that in a previous Globe story she had also been described as Ms. on second reference. She notes in her blog that ".. were I to complain to the Globe the answer will be that they don't refer to academics as Dr. to avoid confusing us with medical doctors. I know this because I have, on several occasions in the past, complained."

Now, I was not aware of a previous complaint but the answer she was given is not correct.

The style guide is clear on the rules for honorifics and Dr.:

"Use the title Dr. for all persons with an earned doctorate, be it in medicine, dentistry or history, unless the story is not about the person's professional capacity and the subject prefers that the title not be used in such contexts. Reporters should determine the subject's preference. Outside the professional context, we should not create the impression that a person is a medical doctor if this is not the case. Do not use Dr. for people with only honorary degrees. The title is often omitted in first reference, particularly if there is a description that indicates the doctorate, such as heart surgeon Mary Smith or paleontologist John Smith. They would be Dr. Smith in second reference."

It is not the first time this has happened. I wrote previously about one article which referred to both Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. Both are medical doctors but Hoskins was called Dr. and Bennett was Ms.

In this case, while the reporter confirmed Dr. Tedds's title, she did not ask which honorific she preferred and went with the most recent Globe reference to her: the one as Ms. and not Dr. or Prof. So in this case, the earlier error was repeated and compounded.

Dr. Tedds writes about subtle gender bias. "Gender bias continues to permeate our culture, and it does so sometimes in subtle ways," she notes in her blog.

To avoid even the appearance of this and given that it has happened before, this is an important reminder that writers and editors need to follow the style guide rules and that Dr. doesn't just mean medical doctors, but any earned doctorate when the person is speaking about their subject of expertise.

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