DUE DILIGENCELanguage And Sensibilities

As the old saying goes, everyone’s a critic. And those in the television industry are no exception. Broadcasters often criticize the workings of other media fields. There has often been conflict between radio and TV people, TV and newspaper people, and Internet people and basically everyone else.

Double standards exist because we look at our industry as "pure" and always right. This double standard also exists between TV and magazine people, specifically this magazine.
Scott Jones.

Now, I’m betting that about half of you cringed when you read Scott’s name and the other half smiled. I’m also betting that you know what’s coming (especially the newsroom people, who have really taken to Scott’s writing style). Michael Silbergleid, our editor, gets a couple of complaints about Scott every month, which get brought up in editorial meetings. He also gets a lot of people saying they love Scott’s column because he understands the newsroom. The one thing Scott really understands, though, is the language of the newsroom.

"Boob." Not such a bad word. I remember watching Lost In Space and Dr. Smith calling the Robot a "bubble-headed booby." The problem is that "boob" can mean more than just a stupid or foolish person. It is also vulgar slang for a woman’s breast. On page 78, Scott uses the term both ways.

Some of you might not think this is appropriate for a sophisticated, business-oriented trade magazine such as ours. Personally, I think you might be right. The problem is that the people that don’t think that using "boob" as in "boob job" is a good idea are also part of an industry that uses words like "ass" in primetime access and "boobies" in the 8 p.m. family hour.

"Ass" can be found, more than once, in episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond, which airs all over the country at 7:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Central). Is it a shame that children might hear language like that, regardless of the fact that Raymond scripts are written to sound like the way people talk (only funnier)? You tell me.

"Boobies" comes from primetime’s Joe Millionaire finale. Now, let’s forget for a moment that the television industry has turned lying and deceiving about love into a national pastime and a commodity to be bought and sold. We’re concerned with foul language here—not morality!
Nice double standard. Perhaps it’s cathartic for TV folks to point fingers at others for doing exactly what they do (and most times for much less).

The reality is that this is how people talk. The problem is when you start using foul language for its own sake, and not in context. Scott has always used his language and double entendres within editorial context. Can the same be said for the language used in primetime television?

And when industry stalwart Broadcasting & Cable features a shot on its February 17 cover of a cameraman getting a shot of someone’s ass (there, I said it) for a story on reality shows and ratings, you have to wonder what editorial decision went into that cover shot selection. (Of course we reprinted that shot here just to show how naughty the folks over at B&C are.)
This may be the way it is...but I never said it was right.

Jonathan Bellows is a contributing editor. He can be reached at: jbellows@uemedia.com.