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Words Get in the Way

If the news is offensive, how does local media report it? Very carefully.

Most TV types probably would have edited out that descriptive faster than you can say "Joe Lieberman." However, following what Channel 4 news director Angie Kucharski calls, in a Dale-like phrase, "significant discussions about the content of the story and the appropriateness of the word," it was left in -- and neither Kucharski nor Boyd has any regrets. Kucharski feels the conclusion was justified by "the late hour of the broadcast" (the report only appeared on the 10 p.m. program) and its effectiveness "in conveying the intensity of what the story was about." Boyd echoes that: "This was a story about people who allegedly kill entire families when someone crosses them. It wasn't about a children's parade, and how someone didn't like the food or the clowns."

As for viewers, they failed to rise up in righteous indignation: Kucharski says she didn't receive a single complaint. That especially pleases editor Shakhmayev, who specifically asked Boyd to keep the "bullshit" in. "That is what I meant, and that is why I said it," he declares with overflowing passion. "But everybody wants to be politically correct, so we can't use the words we want to use. We get control in this country like the former Soviet Union. They used to say, 'You cannot say this, you cannot say that,' and that also happens here.

"I saw an article in the Denver Post that said 'the N-word,' which is fantastic, unbelievable," he goes on. "What is this? Why can we not say this word if this is a word someone said? Why not?"

The unkindest sting: As it turned out, I had already heard that Tiger Woods had been stung by a wasp during a tournament last weekend when I saw the August 27 Post headline "Only a Wasp Can Wound Tiger" over a photo of Caucasian golfer Phil Mickelson. But if I hadn't, I can imagine myself musing, "I thought Tiger was beating all the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants..."

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