John McIntyre

What's in a name

A reporter inquires about the way we refer to U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, because his staff says that he prefers to be known as plain old Ben Cardin. (He's running for re-election.) Can we do that? Sure. We're easy. We accommodated Jimmy Carter and Bob Dole, so Ben Cardin should be no strain. 
Our practice at The Baltimore Sun is to refer to people by the names they choose to use for public purposes. So we indulge k.d. lang and bell hooks in their typographical eccentricities* as well as just-plain-folks seekers of public office. Sometimes people change their names formally for purposes of being listed on the ballot, as did American Joe Miedusiewski, a former Maryland state senator. We go along with that, too.
We long since switched to Beijing from Peking, and we switched from Burma to Myanmar because that obnoxious junta formally changed the name of the country, though we may remind people that it used to be called Burma.  
We'll cope with the fanciful names that corporations come up with, such as eBay. But we do not reproduce logos (no little star instead of an apostrophe for Macy's). 
Though it may not have occurred to you that name wrangling is one of the tasks of the copy editor, there, too, we are on the job with fussy little details for the purpose of establishing and maintaining consistent practice. 
*But we capitalize E.E. Cummings, because, dammit, so did he.