Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be careful with your words

I would like to encourage your staff to be careful with your words when reporting. This morning on the local news there was a story of Cincinnati woman Cynthia Standifer who was given the minimum sentence for killing her son. At the end of the story, the reporter said something to the effect of how she had been an outstanding mother for 2 decades to her adopted son. Why is the word adopted necessary in this sentence? It has nothing to do with the story and it implies that he was less of her son? That she didn't really need to care for him since he wasn't "hers"? That her bond was less so she killed him? That she was some kind of saint for raising an adopted disabled child? All of those implications are inappropriate and irrelevant to this story.

As a parent of 2 adopted children, I strive to make them feel comfortable with their adopted status but also to NEVER feel less of my child. A adopted child is loved just the same as a biologically born child. Please stop making distinctions of that sort when it has NOTHING to do with the story.


--Laura Hinkley, Earlham College, Richmond

[The language we read was from an Associated Press story. It quoted the judge in the case, as follows:
“Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge David Davis said the killing was out of character for Cynthia Standifer, who is a nurse. He praised her for adopting a mentally disabled child and caring for him for two decades.” -- Ed.]


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