In the wake of Chelsea Manning’s official coming out as female, news organizations scrambled to figure out how to write about her while sticking to style guidelines.
They were kind of slow to do it, but by Thursday afternoon, the conversation was getting started. But some outlets have handled the issue with little grace. The New York Times ran a story about news organizations’ responses, which included this gem from National Public Radio spokeswoman Anna Bross:
“Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him.”
Stay classy NPR, and let us know when you’ve conducted a physical examination of Manning’s genitals and hormone levels.
Closer to home, we have a bizarre Twitter/Facebook gaffe by the Lewiston Sun Journal. Thursday morning, when the news was first breaking, they tweeted the story while quipping “Because living in a military prison for 35 years will be easier as a woman?”
After a small gang of young Maine journalists piled on the Sun Journal for their insensitive and weird tweet, it was removed without comment. You fucked up, Sun Journal; at least have the decency to acknowledge your mistake.
[Full disclosure: I work for The Forecaster, a weekly newspaper that is part of the Sun Media Group, along with the Sun Journal]