Quantcast

Confusing first-name familiarity

Letter-to-the-Editor-698x408

By

Editor, Index-Tribune:

First of all, I would like to complement Kendall Fields on the recent article, “Sheltering homeless Sonomans” (Index-Tribune, Feb. 11). Not only was the article timely, but it was well written, laying out not only the scope, but also the depth of the problem in our beloved Sonoma.

However, there were a few discordant notes stylistically that caught my attention. The article quoted Elizabeth Kemp, Sandra and Alan Piotter, and Bill Hutchinson as the organizational leaders for this significant community effort. But I found it odd to have the Piotters referred to by their first names. I quote: “Sandra said,” “Kemp and Sandra,” “Alan says,” “Sandra only expects…” “Alan said.”

I realize that the Piotters were the only couple quoted, but to go from Kemp and Hutchinson to Sandra and Alan is disconcerting to the reader, at least to this aging citizen. The level of discourse rapidly dropped when using only their first names in the article.

I would suggest that a modicum of formality could be maintained throughout, as the Sonoma Index-Tribune is neither the blogosphere nor a gossip column where anything is permissible.

It would still be appropriate to use “Ms. Piotter” or “Rev. Piotter” in order to avoid confusion, or even “Sandra Piotter” and “Alan Piotter.” When only their first names were used, I at first wrongly jumped to the conclusion that two additional people were being interviewed for the article.

Finally, I question the use of “we” in the second paragraph, as it seems more appropriate to a persuasive or opinion piece than a more formal report of the interview itself.

I hope you do not dismiss this as a letter from a crank, or from someone who needs to get a life. I do care deeply about the issue itself and the people quoted in the article. I am also interested in learning of new stylistic expectations in our ever-evolving multi-media world. Thanks for listening.

Mary Shea

Sonoma