For years, it was one of the most painful, divisive journalism questions faced by reporters and editors, a question that they couldn’t look up in the Associated Press Stylebook — the bible of most mainstream newsrooms.
The question: When is an unborn child an “unborn child” or a “baby”? When should reporters use the supposedly neutral term “fetus”?
Here is the top of a recent news story that serves as a perfect, and tragic, example of this journalism issue:
A grieving widower has revealed why he shared photos of his dead wife and unborn daughter after they were killed by an allegedly drunk driver.
Krystil Kincaid was eight months pregnant with her daughter, Alvalynn, when their car was struck on a California highway on Sept. 9. Her heartbroken husband, Zach, who lives in San Jacinto, Calif., decided he wanted the world to see the unsettling images of the 29-year-old mother and their little girl lying in a coffin together at their wake.
That’s a tragic example of this journalism issue.
Here is another new case study, drawn from current celebrity clickbait news. After all, it’s hard for journalists to ignore a royal baby bump.
In this case, the New York Times headline proclaims: “Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Announce She’s Pregnant.” The lede is where we see the “problem.”
LONDON — Another royal baby is on the way.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a child in the spring, Kensington Palace announced.