Article Should Newspapers print Swearing?


Recently, there was an incident where a British sports commentator made a racist comment and swore, believing he was off-air. It was reported in the press three ways; without mentioning the offending words (one racist, one obscene); using asterixes to replace letter; or by printing the words.

Not reporting the words is logical; if they are offensive, then don't print them. Printing them also makes sense by allowing the reader to decide whether they are obscene and concentrating on reporting the facts. My newspaper, which has a policy of printing swear words in full where they are part of the story, suggested that those who had used asterixes were caught between two stools as they wanted to be both judgemental and also make sure all their readers knew exactly what had been said.

The Cuss Control Academy takes a very dim view of swearing and lists the negative effects of swearing under three headings:

1) Swearing imposes a personal penalty
2) Swearing is bad for society
3) Swearing corrupts the English language

Are they right, or are they overstating the case against swearing? Should the press print swearing?

Categories: General Topics


1 Comment

It all depends on your targeted audience. I know that not all readers will react in the same way to swearing as others. But really, printing the whole swear word on an article in a broadsheet probally wouldn't be the best idea, as its generally seen as a newspaper for the higher classes. Now, i know that is playing on steriotypes, but generally it is true. Whereas printing the full swear words in a tabloid newspaper is less likely to offend its audience. But, in my opinion, to stop all real issues of it, just print the first letter of the swear word, e.g. F***, this (hopfully) wouldn't offend people who are sensative to swearing, but it would give the readers who want to see, an insight into what the swear word was in the first place.

Leave a comment