What the #?$?*& is with all the cursing?

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I swear, and often. I rarely, if ever, use actual swear words in my writing — I often opt for the strong, but less shocking cousins, like heck and crap. This article (in the The New York Times) about women’s magazines got me thinking about what I’ve started to see as a trend as a consumer — swear words (or the character-laden alternatives) in print.

Basically, the article talks about how women’s magazines are looking to use stronger language, language used in the offices of the magazines — where women are powerful and not afraid to use whatever language necessary to get their points across. Even if those points seem to come across on the edge of their six inch stilettos.

Journalists have always cursed — I’ll never forget my first day in a newsroom…I think I heard (what I call) the big five within the first ten minutes, but those words NEVER graced the pages of the newspaper. They never even graced the screens of the blogs.

What do you think? Do you think it’s OK to curse? In my social media branding, I never use curses…I also dislike using LOL or other colloquialisms in my professional posts, but my personal blog is full of those types of “common man” phrases.

On one hand, I believe it is our job as reporters to analyze different things that happen in the world and bring it down to an easy-to-digest story in 500 words or less (or inches, if you’re into that sort of thing). On the other hand, I believe that part of that means learning and understanding — and using — the language of your readers.

Is it our job to lift people up? To educate them, to make them highlight our words on iPads/iPhones (or the good old fashioned highlighter) to be defined at a later date? Isn’t it our responsibility to make people learn?

Share your thoughts with me — I want to know if this is a women’s thing, a reporter thing or just a “thing.” And, if you need to swear to share your thoughts, take a minute and see if you can’t save a few characters by using another word (even perhaps (horror of horrors) an abbrev).

Victoria Reitano is the Digital Producer for LIVE with Kelly and Michael. She is also the publisher of The Giornalista Files, her personal blog and portfolio site where she shares her ideas about being an early career lady journo with anyone who will listen. Reitano feels Bikram Yoga is the perfect compliment to her obsessive need to consume information on a constant basis. Connect with her on Twitter @giornalista515.

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  • Destiny

    I personally curse too much and find it as a fun challenge when I’m writing. Though I write and speak completely different, I still see myself searching for the right words to write rather than curses. Whether it be a less graphic “curse” like damn or hell, I stay away from them because I don’t think it gives your name a good reputation. I’ve been in magazine settings ran by women who curse up a storm, but when it comes to producing, you’d think they were the kindest women alive. I think it should be that way. Your readers will respect you as a journalist.

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