If I were writing for a newspaper right now, I would say I'm teed off with all of the farting around about this stuff. I mean, it's baloney.
Online, different terms come into play.
And that's the challenge for the conventional media as they contend with the seemingly borderless linguistics in the digital space. How graphic is too graphic? How does language online affect the longstanding image?
The Los Angeles Times has tried to clarify the curse question in a memo to its staff that its reader representative posted online. It permits graphic language only in the rarest of circumstances and recognizes it is perpetuating an extremely conservative approach.
Our approach is to permit far more latitude online than in the paper. A week ago one of our reporters was shouted at in unambiguous terms on the phone, and we carried the MP3 of the conversation because we thought there was an abiding public interest.
It's true, too much explicit language is gratuitous. Too much use of such language actually blunts its impact. More importantly, there's an existing audience around your brand, and taking it into new territory runs a great risk of alienating.
Upstart media often chide the conventional folks for their provincial attitude, but they don't have as much to risk. Much as the Times' note indicates a very narrow path, at least it's clear about its boundary. You know what you'll get, darnit.