I am a semi-avid reader of the Pro Football Talk website, and respect its editor, Mike Florio. I also realize that they’re geared toward a demographic of which I happen to be a part of.
All that being said: Have we really come to this in journalism circa 2012?
Here’s the entire opening paragraph on a Florio-penned story on Pro Football Talk, a property of NBC Sports, about the highly-sought-after sudden free agent quarterback Peyton Manning, of whose services, teams such as the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos are favorites to land:
“With the Dolphins desperate to put asses in the seats and the Broncos apparently desperate to find a way to kick Tim Tebow’s ass out of town, the question of Peyton Manning’s arm strength has gotten lost in the scramble to sign him.”
Really, Mike Florio? I wouldn’t even expect that kind of a story open from ESPN.
Now, it’s not the first time the word “ass” or a variation of the word has appeared on PFT’s website. Granted, when they do publish the word, they’re usually quoting an NFL player saying it, and that’s fine. And, of course, you can’t stop the many commenters on PFT’s articles from running their mouths. But this is the first time that I recall a columnist, let alone an editor, of a respected news website editorially using the word “ass” in a story, let alone two variations of the word.
I realize that “ass” is not one of the seven dirty words, not necessarily offensive, and is very much mundane in our culture. But it is unorthodox to read a news story on a top news website, sports or otherwise, and be greeted with the word “ass” by the author of the story.
Go ahead. Search ESPN’s website. Or CNN’s website. You will be hard-pressed to find a headline, let alone a story, that bears the word “ass” or “asses” but is not quoting a subject using such a word. It’s practically unheard of in modern journalism, and that’s why I was a bit taken aback by Florio’s use of the word.
And yes, I realize that Peyton Manning has spent most of his NFL career on a team whose insignia is a young male donkey (Colts) and that one of his suitors is a team modeled after a wild horse (Broncos). Maybe Florio was just being cute in making an illustrative pun on the “an ass is a donkey” card. If he did, in my opinion, he failed miserably. Respected journalists have to remember that they must not go down this route if they don’t have to.
Don’t worry – I was not offended by Florio’s use of the word (much like you probably weren’t). I’m just looking at the big picture in the vein of journalism. So don’t expect me to be spearheading some campaign encouraging Florio to apologize, or anything.
But if Peyton Manning signs with the Dolphins, the first time I see Pro Football Talk use the term “donkey punch” with respect to the Broncos, I might get a little upset.