Last Friday, I compiled the links for Triangle’s email blast. Every week, I have been trying to compile a list of stories that the writers at Bryan Triangle wrote during the last week because it gives the stories more publicity.
Besides just making the email a summary of what is on the Bryan Triangle website, I also want to include links to outside stories, stories that may challenge readers, stories that talk about the big news of the day or stories that I find entertaining. I was trying following the model that Mike Allen uses when he creates the Politico Playbook, one of the email blasts for The Politico.
So far the emails have been going well. The editor-in-chief of Triangle has told me he liked how the emails looked. Friday afternoon, I sent out this email:
Normally, the email is sent out to the students, faculty and staff a few minutes after I send the email to the office which coordinates the mass emails on campus.
This time, the mass email did not arrive in my inbox on Friday. I didn’t think much of it. I sent it out at the end of the day and I thought the office might not have had time to send it out before closing.
Next Monday, however, the email came like this:
Half of the links were deleted. The headline talking about the meteor over Russia which sent hundreds to the hospital, deleted.
I don’t know exactly why half my email was gone. My first guess is that they found the story about the Navy Seal who shot Usama Bin Ladin inappropriate because of language.
There are 18 uses of the F-bomb, 20 uses of Sh*t, in the story. In every instance except one, the author is quoting the Navy Seal.
I decided to include the story because I thought the story was more important than the language. The story was a profile about a man that we would never know any other way, a man whose military action changed the world.
It was an excellent story. Phil Bronstein, former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, worked with the Center for Investigative Reporting to create this story. The story had both a compelling narrative and sharp, sharp research.
By leaving the course language in his story, Bronstein created a picture of gritty realism.
I admit, not many publications print stories with language. Most newspapers shy away from works like ‘sh*t” and ‘f*ck’ in order to create a professional tone in the paper. Some readers don’t like reading stories with language.
That is why I warned readers of the language in the story. I wanted to let the readers choose whether or not to read the story which I found notable.
I don’t use language myself when writing stories, but I also recognize that those words, like any other words, can describe situations with the most precision. If a source says something important using language that may offend polite society, I may quote them anyways because it accurately describes the situation.
But why did the college delete every single link to outside publications? The Wall Street Journal video about the meteor was straight news reporting. The First Things blog post about JRR Tolkien and the Beatles was harmless.
I know the college is the ultimate publisher of everything Bryan Triangle, that we have almost no legal right to operate as conventional journalists. I get that.
But compiling that email and choosing all its links was my job. Getting censored still stings.