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I know it's USA Today, but...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SpeedTchr, Jul 5, 2013.

  1. SpeedTchr

    SpeedTchr Well-Known Member

    ...this kind of writing still grates on me.


    "Zimmerman, 29, is on trial for second-degree murder for the February 2012 shooting death of Trayvon. Zimmerman, who has pleaded not guilty, has said he acted in self-defense after he was attacked. Trayvon's death and the speculation that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, profiled, followed and murdered him sparked racial controversy and protests around the country last year. Zimmerman faces life in prison if convicted but has maintained that race did not factor into his actions."

    It may just be piss-poor editing, but why on earth would it be acceptable to refer to the defendant by his last name and the victim by his first name in a story?
  2. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Because Martin was a minor (17) when he died and Zimmerman wasn't a minor.
  3. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    At several papers where I've worked, the style is adults are referred to by their last names on second reference and children/minors use first name on second reference.

    At 17, Martin is (was) pushing that to its limit, but I'll bet that's the case.

    BTW, sports was usually an exception to that rule, though we at times did the first name thing with pre-high school kids (and sometimes HS-age kids now that I think about it) in feature-type stories.
  4. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    Damn liberal media.
  5. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Da man ... so in your preps copy, you wrote first names on second reference? I've only ever seen that when there's a bunch of people from same family in same story and you need to use first references to avoid awkward full references or ambiguity.
  6. Wow... I did not know that.
    I have never heard of this.

    And is preps coverage an exception?
  7. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    I have never heard of this practice. First names for minors?

    In this case it smacks of 'big bad adult hurt poor little child' even if that's not the intent. Martin should be identified by his last name.
  8. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Geez freaking louise, people, can you not read? Look at the phrase bolded above.
  9. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    I've seen an abundance of first-name references with VERY young minors (typically in an abuse case where mom and/or dad shared the last name).

    If there is such a guideline, I guess victims get the first-name treatment, whereas accused minors do not.

    When 13-year-old Nathaniel Brazill fatally shot a teacher at age 13, and when 14-year-old Lionel Tate killed a little girl he was babysitting (demonstrating wrestling moves), they were routinely called by their last names in stories in my paper.

  10. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    I don't know that it's AP style or anything like that (can't say I've checked). But it was our paper's style at several of the many stops in my checkered career.
  11. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    This AP's style, not USAT:

    children In general, call children 15 or younger by their first name on second reference. Use the last name, however, if the seriousness of the story calls for it, as in a murder case, for example. For ages 16 and 17, use judgment, but generally go with the surname unless it's a light story. Use the surname for those 18 and older.
  12. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    Can't say I disagree with that style. Especially the "use judgment" part.
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