Sometimes the nice folks at Ask the Editor just take their, and everybody else's, eye off the ball:
Q. Regarding the use of gender neutral nomenclature, how should we refer to manholes and manhole covers? – from San Francisco on Wed, Aug 13, 2014
A. Use the impersonal pronoun it for an inanimate object.
Yes, but that's not the issue, is it? Nobody's really wondering whether a manhole cover, like a noble ship of the line, ought to be "she" on second reference, or whether such decisions show us as we want to be seen in the great social scheme of things. The writer has a simple question, and a simple answer -- how about "utility hole"? -- will let everybody go about their business.
Lesson for editors: Don't overthink the easy ones. The nearest exit may be behind you. Time you waste is time you can't spend on something that matters.
Labels: AP, editing basics