WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Profanities in News Stories

Jan 16, 2018

President Donald Trump is accused of using vulgar language to describe African nations.  He uttered the remark last week during a White House meeting on immigration. Some news organizations chose to use the president's curse word in their reporting on the story while others did not.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss does not have a problem with using the word in news stories.  He said it’s appropriate because it provides context.  He also said he believes standards have relaxed and the use of curse words is not as shocking as in years past.

However, he does not want to be cavalier about it.  Buss said he does not take it lightly when considering whether to include such language in a story.  He said whether the word would be used in the Western Courier would depend on whether its usage is germane to the story.  He said in this case, the word Trump is accused of using is the central factor in the story.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she never thought she would be in the position of deciding whether to use such a word in a TV news story about the presidency.   She’s concerned it won’t be the last time she has to think about it.

Crighton said NEWS3 is an over-the-air station, which is why she’s not comfortable using the term in the station’s stories.  She said CNN used the word repeatedly in its reporting but CNN is not a broadcast station – it is a cable news outlet.

Buss and Crighton both said they would be more inclined to use the word in online stories.  Crighton said online content is not regulated, whereas the FCC regulates what is broadcast over the public’s airwaves.

Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.