Reading for ethics moment tomorrow

Apparently, I missed an interesting discussion on Thursday about the way the pronoun “ze”was used in this Vox story about freegans.

Amanda will be back with us tomorrow morning to talk about the decision to use that pronoun. Should be a great conversation — especially if you read the story at the link above.

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10 Responses to Reading for ethics moment tomorrow

  1. Hm…I’m not sure on this one.

    I think it was good to use “ze” because that’s what the person interviewed preferred. Adding the link with the explanation was a good example of teaching our readers by giving them an educational resource.

    At the same time, the “ze” was distracting. I visited the link to the explanation, then went back to the story. When I finished reading the article, I was pondering the world of gender-neutral pronouns more than I was thinking about freeganism. The pronoun bit was interesting, but it was a bit of a stumbling point.

    I’m curious to hear more about the decision.

  2. Katie Bevan says:

    I agree with Kelly that it was distracting. I found myself wondering about the link and the background to that small word and circumstance rather than focusing on the end of the article.

    But I really wonder how much of a choice there is in using this gender-neutral pronoun. If a source wishes to be identified as this, shouldn’t they be represented that way? Is it better to use this than to lose a source all together because they might be offended? I don’t think so.

  3. asgrund says:

    The first time I read this story, I found the use of the word “ze” interesting, but not enough to click on the link. I saved that for the end. The use of the pronoun was interesting, but not too distracting. I think the audience could have successfully gotten through the entire article without losing focus had “ze” been the only addition.

    However, “zir” was also used in the article. The use of two new pronouns was definitely distracting. While I appreciate the author’s use of gender-neutral, source-inclusive words, I would rather have read some awkward sentences that leave out pronouns than have had to force my mind away from two new words and back to freeganism.

  4. rosiedowney says:

    I believe it’s appropriate to refer to a source in the manner of their choosing. That said, what if you have 15 different sources for a story and they all ask for a unique pronoun or name? An article containing too many unique names/pronouns could turn off a lot of readers. I look forward to tomorrow’s discussion on this subject.

  5. danramey says:

    Like Kellie and Katie, I found the gender neutral pronouns quite distracting. In the sentences where they were used, I found that I was focusing on the pronoun and not the content of the sentence.

    However, at the same time, I completely understand why the reporter used the pronouns in the story and feel that it is important to go that extra mile in order to make the source feel more comfortable.

    I was trying to think of ways that you could keep the pronouns in the story but make it less distracting but was unable to come up with anything right away. Anyone got any good ideas on how this could be accomplished?

  6. Eva Dou says:

    Fascinating. I wonder whether the source gave the interview on the condition that “ze” was used, or if the source requested the use of “ze,” or if the reporter just used it voluntarily as a courtesy? Should it make a difference?

    p.s. We refer to Serfozo as “she” in a previous Missourian article.

  7. Amy Backes says:

    I’ll admit, I cheated when I read the article. After reading the blog post, I was really interested in the use of “ze” and went ahead and clicked on the link first. I read the whole page about gender neutral pronouns and then came back to the story sometime later. That being said, I was able to focus on the story without any problems at all.

    I think it’s important to use gender neutral pronouns if it will make sources feel more comfortable. At the same time, it’s important for reporters to acknowledge that most people (myself included) may not have any idea that “ze” is a gender neutral pronoun and include some type of description. I think the link was a great idea.

  8. alecialass says:

    I thought that the article was really interesting and that the pronoun “ze” just added to who the character really is. While at first I found it a little distracting (had to re-read some), I felt that it really did help out the story in the end and the reporter made the right choice. I do worry if people were interested enough to actually click the link provided or if they were just left confused…

  9. I think the use of it helps illustrate the tolerance Vox has of people’s requests and identity, and I think they took the right approach. There should not have been more focused on it, because that is not what the story is about. If people wanted to read more, they had the opportunity with the link provided.

    However, I do think this could turn into an interesting follow up story. I want to know who else, if anyone, has used this? How have other publications dealt with it? Those are things I want to know, because I do feel like this is a subject that will be used more frequently in the near future, and I think it would be a really interesting piece.

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