Home > Columns, Writing > Why is there so much bullshit in community newspapers?

Why is there so much bullshit in community newspapers?

January 18, 2011

Last week, the James Weldon of the North Shore News quoted former Solicitor-General Kash Heed as saying: “Even the reporter (who shot it) will tell you it’s complete bullshit,” in reference to television coverage of the suspension of a local Mountie.

The use of bullshit is surprisingly common, even in typically family-oriented community newspapers. Insert own joke here.

People swear. Some people (and, especially, reporters) swear a lot.

As reporters whose jobs revolve around writing down what people say, it’s inevitable that an expletive will, on occasion, make it into our notebooks. And because those quotes in which people swear often contain the most emotion (like that Heed statement), they are most likely to end up in a newspaper. Still things can get tricky.

Most editors don’t have much of a problem allowing a little shit into their pages. I did a quick search of the Black Press papers and, even excusing the profane Westender and Monday Magazine, came up with more than a dozen different shits in the last six months of 2010. Whether small papers or large, shit happens

“Bullshit” is also fine, having appeared recently in the Peace Arch News, Rossland News, Revelstoke Times-Review and a plethora of papers that ran a Tom Fletcher column that proclaimed: “This, as Bennett would say, is bullshit” (about Bennett’s claim of reluctantly seeking public office). In fact, “bullshit” may be used more than the bovine-free version. (Is this a sign of something? Does the transition from shit to bullshit reflect something about your culture? Our language? Our politics? Our politicians? Possibly. Or maybe not. Somebody should investigate.)

But punch “fuck” into the same search engine and you get back nothing. Switch that to “expletive” and you see that the word is clearly not fucking acceptable.

A sample:

Parent’s outburst disrupts Bantam League hockey game
10 Jan 2011
Lake Cowichan Gazette
Unhappy with a referee’s call, a hockeytook it upon himself to express, in a loud expletive-filled rant, his disagreement. ¶The incident took place during Lake Cowichan’s Bantam League 


Well-known Youbou elk killed by poachers
03 Jan 2011
Lake Cowichan Gazette
Fondly referred to as Pretty Boy,not-so-fondly known as Stinky and a more expletive-filled nick-name, a well-known Youbou elk has been killed. ¶“I know that they shot it with 


Osoyoos man sentenced for threats
21 Dec 2010
Penticton Western News
in my lifeI have never hurt anyone in any way,” said Lemay, speaking to the judge. “These (expletive) treat me like I am (expletive) Osama bin Laden and you just ride along with them.”¶In Septe 


Osoyoos man sentenced for uttering threats
18 Dec 2010
Penticton Western News
fly in my lifeI have never hurt anyone in any way,” said Lemay, speaking to the judge. “These (expletive) treat me like I am (expletive) Osama bin Laden and you just ride along with them.” ¶In Septem 


Manners dumped at local landfill
30 Nov 2010
Salmon Arm Observer
e morning,” Taylor tells her.¶“It’s miserablethere, I don’t even have heat in my (expletive) van,” says the female angrily. “I was waiting for the light to turn green.” ¶Taylor say

I’m not going to get upset that “fuck” doesn’t appear in a community newspaper. I agree that the word is still a little too risqué for your average paper. However, I would rather see f— or f***in place of the seemingly preferred [expletive]. (A search for “f—” and “f***” turned up nothing.) In certain instances, like the above “(expletive) van” one can think of at least two different swears that could fill in the blank. Sure, it’s not a big deal, but it seems to me that if quotes are pretty much sacred, there should be no ambiguity, even when someone drops an f-bomb.

Unleash a shitstorm of discussion by leaving a comment with your fucking thoughts.

Photo by Newton Graffiti via Flickr.


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