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"Fart" now a headline word for 9News, mainstream media?

The images above, from 9News' home page, represent breaking news in at least one obvious way. But there's also significance to the headline beyond the story itself -- an Associated Press report about an English study claiming that passing gas may be beneficial for health "in small doses." The banner offers more proof that the word "fart" is becoming more and more accepted by mainstream news organizations.

See also: The Denver Post's giggle-worthy fart story.

Publications such as Westword have for years had what we tend to see as a more progressive approach to profanities in headlines, the concept being that use of the actual words, as opposed to euphemisms, reflects the way real people talk. In general, however, major newspapers and TV stations are more conservative and apply language policies with family audiences in mind.

When it comes to "fart," that policy has slowly evolved in recent years. Back in 2009, for example, the Denver Post covered a story about an iPhone app known as iFart -- and while the paper avoided the term in its headline, which read "'Pull My Finger' Lets Loose Dispute," the "iFart" moniker appears in the online subhead and throughout the copy.

This breakthrough didn't exactly start a linguistic fart party. We only found a bare handful of fart allusions in a Post-related web search. Among them were a Broncos blog that parenthetically boasted "Fart Joke Included" and a January piece about cow farts causing a barn to explode in Germany. Here's a screen capture from that item:

Note the memorable cutline on the accompanying photo of a cow, which reads, "This is a cow." Hard to argue with that logic.

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As for other local news media organizations, we found no "fart" nods associated with Fox31 and CW2 beyond the occasional reader comment; "Grumpy old fart" is a favorite term. As for CBS4, we came upon a 2012 item with the headline "TTYM: Watch DeAndre Jordan 'Fart' On People And Braylon Edward's Twitter Fail." Unfortunately, the YouTube video that originally accompanied it has been pulled offline.

By the way, today's article doesn't actually use the word "fart;" apparently, the Associated Press is still avoiding it whenever possible. But for the headline, 9News cut to the chase -- or cut to something.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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