‘Fuck’ is one of my favorite words. I love it, I love the way it rolls off the tongue and punctuates sentences with deliberate intent. It’s the best. But ‘fuck’ doesn’t work well in most journalism spaces, except here at my beloved Jezebel, and some think that reluctance to use such an awesome word is to our readers detriment.
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was speaking frankly to the Ukrainian ambassador about her opinion of the European Union and said ‘Fuck the EU.’ Then her incendiary conversation leaked to press. Oops. However when most news outlets reported her exchange, they omitted the hot button word, using more words to describe that one word. For example, the LA Times wrote Ms. Nuland used "a blunt expletive when expressing frustration." Worry about a word count for what? Over at the New York Times, there’s a whole op-ed pushing for the use of profanity in journalism.
Taste is a legitimate concern. But this isn’t a matter of sprinkling salty words around to spice up the content. These circumlocutions actually deprive readers of the very thing these institutions so grandly promise: news and information. At a time when readers can simply go online to find the details from more nimble upstarts willing to be frank, the mainstream media need to accurately report language that is central to their stories.
I wouldn’t say profanity should be used in every article but if a writer is reporting a person’s conversation and that thread includes a curse word, print that bitch and we’d all be the better for it.
Image via Somee Cards.