In the quest for civility and a moderately refined society, I have come up with a three part plan of action for the senior editorial staff at the University of Utah student newspaper:
- Grow up.
- Get out of the boys' junior high locker room.
- Buy a thesaurus.
When I was on the newspaper staff at Lakeridge Junior High 31 years ago, Stephanie Cowan and I snuck into the layout office and added a line to the last edition of the newspaper. We changed Shane Littlefield's name to “Shaney.” A bold move, to be sure. And one that Shane did not approve.
We took our lumps: a scolding from Mrs. Smith.
But the staff at the University of Utah student newspaper topped our junior high stupidity handily. This week nine senior journalists — including editor-in-chief Rachel Hanson— decided it would be clever and hilariously funny to pull a graduation prank. Following something of a tradition, they hid a message in their farewell pieces. The first letter that began each piece spelled out coarse words for male and female genitalia. Stringing them together wasn't difficult, given that the columns were aligned and used large, bolded drop caps for the first letters.
When questioned, Hanson said, “It wasn't meant to be obscene or pornographic…”
Following typical journalistic spin, ignore the actual behavior. If you don't like the label, just say the label doesn't apply. When I see Hanson, I'm going to punch her in the stomach and say, “It wasn't meant to be hurtful!” I'm sure she'll believe me.
But the genius becomes even more clear when she tries to explain the crass stunt. As reported in the Deseret News, “Hanson said the staff struggled to find a word with nine letters, one for each senior column, and instead opted for a four- and a five-letter word for female and male genitalia.”
Yes, this is the future of journalism. They “struggled” mightily to find any English word with exactly nine letters! The internal wrestling must have been immense! But, in the end, they were forced to settle for one four-letter word and one five-letter word that were within their extensive, collective vocabularies. (At least they were up-to-grade-level in their arithmetic skills and could add single-digits!)
It's a comfort to know that such refined and intelligent citizens will be shaping our world and writing our history.
For next year's staff, I have a few suggestions:
Or, my personal favorite: