Saturday, February 03, 2007

Careful what you say

I recently read a news article about the controversy surrounding "Grey's Anatomy" star, Isaiah Washington. Washington apparently had uttered a word that wasn't something he should have said, and apologized for it, yet the paper had not reported what he had said. How am I supposed to learn from his mistakes if I don't know what he said?

PoynterOnline reporter Aly Colon took on this issue of whether or not one should report offensive speech. She sites three elements in which one should consider before printing or reporting the offensive speech: your journalistic purpose, your audience and the clarity that comes from using the word.

I took from this argument that one must do what would result in the greatest good for the greatest amount of people, or the idea of utilitarianism.
"The word seems pretty central to any discussion about whether and when to use it. But what about journalists serving more general interest audiences? Words matter."

In this case, I do believe that Washington's use of the word, which happened to be the term "faggot," should have been included in the story. I do believe that summarizing that what Washington was wrong was beneficial, but that there would be purpose, the audience would be correct, and that there would be a great deal of clarity if the word was printed.

I do believe in this case, that the greatest good for the greatest amount of people would be to know what Washington said. This way, the public would know that the use of such terms is unacceptable and that even a star can't get away with such ignorant speech.


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