What to Air When the Mayor says “Asshole” in Interview

The City of Philadelphia just experienced a shocking and sad loss when three teens died in a shooting at a city park, WHYY said:
The mayor deemed the Juniata Park bloodshed “a bizarre tragedy.” He said initial reports point to a beef between teenagers out past curfew, and spurred on by social media, turning deadly when the mother of one child told her boyfriend or husband to get a weapon, which he allegedly did. (NBC10 is reporting that the alleged shooter was the stepfather of a child involved in the beef.)

Then the mayor of Philadelphia let it fly in a press statement:

How should you handle the mayor’s statement? Air it, edit it, paraphrase it?
If you bleep it, would the listener, viewer insert a worse word?
Does bleeping the “A” word diminish the mayor’s outrage?
Would you handle the soundbite differently on early newscasts compared to late-night shows?
How would your online treatment be different, why?


  1. Excellent post Al and we have this issue come up frequently — our public officials often have rich and salty exchanges on-mic. Our general rule for our radio delivery is to “bleep” (we use a short 100hz tone) the strongest but we do leave some of the weakest cursing in, and advise listeners that we’ve edited for profanity or left unedited and the language is strong. Since accessing audio or video on the web is a different user experience (active “click” versus passive listening or viewing) we disclaim in text associated with the multimedia.

    My personal view is they’re public officials making public pronouncements. It isn’t up to us to clean up their language; our responsibility is to the public listening or watching and if their officials go potty mouth then so be it.

  2. no one ever likes to hear the truth because it can be very painful and like a dagger to the heart. But the mayor said it as straight as you can people of philadelphia ” stop being a**holes and shooting your generations.

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