Profanity in a Murder Trial? Shocking!

by Dan Ward

Reading the coverage of Day 1 of the George Zimmerman trial, I was reminded of the famous line from Casablanca, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”

Apparently, Orlando’s news directors were shocked, shocked to find that profanity might be used in a murder trial, even after journalists had already reported about the accused’s use of profanity.

Local TV stations fell all over themselves apologizing to viewers for the language, with WFTV General Manager Shawn Bartlet saying, “I don’t think anyone was anticipating what today was going to be.”  I wonder if her legal correspondent, Bill Schaeffer, anticipated an F-bomb or two.

Many stations are now going to an eight-second delay to allow them to dump any future profanities, though WESH plans to continue its policy of not delaying “live coverage of news events.”  Brings new meaning to the tired TV news cliché, “you heard it here first.”

We remind ourselves, our team and our clients to anticipate.  Think before you speak, or act.  Consider the ramifications of the actions you are about to take.

I’m shocked, shocked to learn nobody in the newsroom could anticipate the harsh language that too many people heard yesterday.

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