Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What is this s---?

I remember the olden days, when the NYT famously did not print profanity, yet included some in the transcripts of Nixon's secretly recorded meetings. Somebody protested to Abe Rosenthal that the paper didn't seem to know its own policy, and he said, "I suppose the policy is that we'll take 'shit' from the president of the United States, but nobody else."

The Star Tribune, will, too. See Anders Gyllenhaal's blog note on the decision to use the quote here.

What did your paper do?
–Howard Weaver


  1. After reading Anders' argument I was persuaded that he had made the right call and we patronized our readers by going with the wussy s---. We generally follow the prime-time TV rule in deciding what profanity, semi-nudity and violence to allow in our news columns. In recent years that has provided us with much -- and expanding -- room. But prime time doesn't yet throw around this expletive, so we also refrained.

    In hindsight, though, Anders is correct that the president's use of the work provides rare insight into his temper; it reflected a frustration not expressed in public and thus warranted an exception to the rule.

    Way to go Anders.


  2. We printed it without dashes and, to my surprise, got no complaints. I'm wondering if we editors make a bigger deal of profanity than readers do. I'm doing my column about it for Sunday.

  3. We stuck with "s---." The deciding factor for me: community sensibilities. I figure the dashed version got the point across clearly but we didn't have to rub readers' noses in it, so to speak.

    If I were in a larger metro area, I reckon I'd have run it in full. But not here, where we have cows and conservatives in equal numbers.

  4. We stuck with our standard approach of s---. The word did not seem to us to be important; in fact, in my opinion it was a distraction to the more compelling news that Bush was looking to Syria.

  5. We didn't print the word, and I thought we might get a few complaints because of that. We didn't.