A source asked that we not use a gender-specific pronoun and instead asked that we use they/them when referring to this person. In a news story, this is a nearly impossible request to honor — when an article includes quotes and voices from multiple people, using they/them to refer to a single person can make it confusing for a reader to know who is being referred to.
We understand there was no simple solution. None of the standard journalistic references offer a guideline on this and conversations on the subject offer widely varied and often conflicting solutions. While the Daily Lobo editors did their best to handle this request immediately, it is obvious that a good long-term solution is needed.
Therefore, from now on, the Daily Lobo will use the non-gender-specific pronoun “ze,” and for possessive, “zir,” for anyone who asks us to do so.
Gender is a difficult topic to tackle in journalism. It is not something people always wear on the outside; it’s about how they feel on the inside. There are scores of alternatives for gender-specific pronouns, but as journalists we feel it is necessary to use a single option as a way to keep articles consistent and simple to read.
While we understand that not every person who identifies outside of the gender binary of he/him and she/her likes the ze/zir alternative, we feel that this is at least a start for what will certainly be an evolving dialogue.
This is the beginning, and we wholeheartedly welcome input from the non-binary community on which gender-neutral pronoun might be the best alternative for those who do not wish to be identified in gender-specific terms.
Another issue this brought to our attention is the lack of guidelines for terminology when writing about many things specific to the LGBT community. In that regard, the Daily Lobo will reference the guidelines recommended on nlgja.org — a resource for LGBT journalists.
It is our hope that the Daily Lobo can continue to strive for both community inclusiveness and clarity in reporting.
The Daily Lobo Editorial Board is composed of Editor-in-Chief Jyllian Roach, Managing Editor J.R. Oppenheim and News Editor Jonathan Baca. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or news @dailylobo.com, respectively or on Twitter @DailyLobo.