AP, New York Times, NPR update style on Chelsea Manning

“The Associated Press will henceforth use Pvt. Chelsea E. Manning and female pronouns for the soldier formerly known as Bradley Manning, in accordance with her wishes to live as a woman,” the news cooperative said in an advisory to editors and subscribers Monday evening.

The AP had previously said it wanted more information about the statement Manning released last week. More detail in this blog post — in which the former Bradley Manning Support Network says it will rename itself the Private Manning Support Network — and an interview with Manning attorney David E. Coombs allayed whatever concerns AP had.

In that interview, Coombs told AP Manning “decided to announce that she wanted to live as a woman the day after sentencing because the prison said publicly it would not provide hormone treatment.” Manning “wanted, essentially, for the media surrounding the trial to dissipate,” Coombs said.

Also on Monday evening, New York Times editor Steve Kenny tweeted this:

 

In a blog post last week, Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan noted a news story about Manning’s announcement “continued to use the masculine pronoun and courtesy title.”

It’s tricky, no doubt. But given Ms. Manning’s preference, it may be best to quickly change to the feminine and to explain that — rather than the other way around.

Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson said at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association’s convention this past weekend that the Times would follow NLGJA’s style guidance on transgender people.

Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, Washington Post managing editor for digital, told Post reporter Paul Farhi last week: “We are using the pronoun ‘he’ to describe Manning for the time being. This is an ongoing story, and we will reevaluate as it develops further. We based this decision on numerous factors, including that the name Bradley Manning has a strong identification for our readers because he is a very visible public figure.”

Washington City Paper reported the next day that the Post changed a headline from “Manning to live as woman in prison” to “Manning says he will live as a woman.” Post spokesperson Kris Coratti told Perry Stein the change was a “refinement for a later edition, which is a standard practice.”

NPR originally said it would stick with masculine pronouns, too. But on Friday, Managing Editor for Standards and Practice Stu Seidel wrote a memo to the newsroom saying Manning’s decision “is one NPR should respect.”

We are fond of saying that our style and language use is always open to challenge and subject to change. We also believe that a healthy newsroom is open to debate and reflection. In the past day, we have been challenged by listeners and readers and by colleagues at our member stations and in our newsroom, raising a chorus of views, including requests to rethink, backed up by arguments that make good sense. We have been persuaded.

Previously: Bradley Manning news raises questions about how to refer to transgender people in stories

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