City Desk

Washington Post Changed Headline on Manning Story to Include Pronoun “He”

Like the rest of the media world, the Washington Post is grappling with how to refer to Chelsea Manning, the army private convicted of leaking military secrets who announced yesterday that she will no longer use the first name Bradley and plans to live as a woman. Two versions of today's Post may have shed some light on the paper's struggle with the issue.

The Post's story on Manning's announcement appeared on the front page of the paper. But the Post printed at least two versions of the paper with different headlines, one of which referred to Manning as "he."

The first headline, a Post spokeswoman confirmed, contains no gender-identifying pronouns and reads "Manning to live as woman in prison."


The later version of the headline on the same story: "Manning says he will live as a woman."


Post spokeswoman Kris Coratti did not give a reason for the headline swap, but writes in an email that "this was a refinement for a later edition, which is a standard practice."

The Post said Thursday it would use "he" to describe Manning "for the time being." However, since yesterday much of its coverage of Manning has stuck to gender-neutral descriptors, like "the former intelligence analyst."

Another Post story covered how media organizations have referred to Manning since yesterday's announcement. While some news organizations are now referring to Manning using the pronoun "she"—as Manning requested in her announcement—others, including the New York Times, have stuck with "he."

"This is an ongoing story, and we will reevaluate as it develops further," Post Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, who oversees copy editors, told the paper's Paul Farhi. "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.”

In case any readers are wondering, Washington City Paper is following its style guidelines on coverage of transgender individuals, and is now referring to Manning using the feminine pronoun.

Top photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • name

    The Post: We have no backbone and we have no judgment, so we'll just keep bouncing between all the possible outcomes.

  • Aaron

    Well yeah, name, that's probably true too.

    Manning committed those acts - and I am not saying they are cowardly or anything - as a man: he gained entrance to the military as a man, so it was a man who leaked that information. I also think now that changing the subject or trying to is strange. Why is this issue so high profile? Why do we have to discuss it? The issue of his gender identity is going to overshadow, possibly, what he did while in the military. That shouldn't happen. He needs to be a bit more courageous and not try to duck all this.

    It's probably insensitive, what I'm saying, but there are issues larger than his personal one here.

    Are we to believe that he did NOT act on principle at all? That he did this 100% out of confusion?

    People are calling him a hero. He needs to act like one.

  • Tyler

    Thank you City Paper, for being a respectful voice in this mess.

  • deangold

    A transgerder woman was beaten to death in New York for being Trans. Trans are subject to huge amounts of violence. And we still have folk who won't pay the slightest bit of respect to trandgendered fok by referring to them with the preferred pronoun. Really Washington Post?

    Really Aaron? Aaron, how about acting like a compassionate human and let Manning be a she.

  • DC

    This isn't complicated. The first headline sounds like a statement of undisputed fact: "Manning to live as a woman." But Manning doesn't have the final word on this; prison authorities have a vote too, and Manning could even change his mind. So the second headline attributes the statement to the source: "Manning SAYS he will live as a woman." It's the same difference as "Taxes will go up" and "Governor SAYS taxes will go up." And whatever Manning's intentions, the fact is that right now, he is HE. What's the problem?

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