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When Public Officials Make Offensive Remarks

The repulsive diabtribe launched by Donald Trump’s new communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, against his White House colleagues had news organizations around the world relying on asterisks and dashes to avoid publishing the offensive words directly but still allowing readers to understand what he had said.
Some normally staid organizations actually published his remarks in full, even though his particular choice of words went well beyond what normally appears in news media.
The consensus seems to be that his position as White House Communications Director made the event newsworthy and the public needed to see the words to get the full story. But when stories require an exception to usual newsroom practice, how the decision to publish is made should also be a story.
Readers deserve to know why their daily news is filled with schoolyard taunts and language rarely heard beyond groups of 17-year old boys. But before telling readers, newsrooms should ensure they’ve taken reader sensibilities seriously; this is not a decision you want to leave to the one editor on duty, and a plan for dealing with controversial remarks and stories should be in place, with staff aware of it, before it is needed.
Here’s how some news organizations reported the remarks, from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/business/scaramuccis-vulgar-rant-spurs-newsroom-debate-asterisks-or-no-asterisks.html

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