The Fu*k Jar

Romenesko offers up the discussion in several places about cursing in newsrooms, and I thought I’d drop in my two cents. It began with a Slate TV Club entry about the latest episode of Wired, HBO’s series about police in Baltimore. This year, the show features the newsroom of the city’s paper, which has gotten a lot of coverage by journalists over whether it fairly depicts actual newsrooms. In this episode, a reporter was taken to task for language in the newsroom, so Slate wondered if anybody had any actual experience with that.

Free speech and all, remember?

The Fuck JarWhen I ran the newsroom for WDEF-TV in Chattanooga in 1988, the cursing was so bad that I put a jar (later dubbed “The Fuck Jar”) on the assignment desk and required staffers to put a quarter in it every time they dropped the F‑bomb. We used the funds collected for parties, and it was a source of great fun for all.

Somebody decorated the jar, and I still have it on my desk. It’s a wonderful reminder of the time and the people.

One day, my assignment editor arrived in an especially foul mood and announced she was putting $5 in the jar, so that we all should be prepared. I’ll never forget that. I just spoke with her recently (she’s now a news director), and she said she had calmed down considerably.

So, yes, cursing in the newsroom does sometimes get out of hand, but at least for us in Chattanooga, we got the point while having a little fun, too.


  1. so far today i owe .75 .

    (got cutoff on the freeway)


  1. […] The scene between Klebanow and Hayes is getting a little buzz in the j‑world. Salon’s TV Club said it “defied belief;” Romenesko puts out the call for personal anecdotes and gets a few, while others chatter away on their own blogs. (And may I please ask: When did David Simon piss in Bill Wyman’s cornflakes, anyway?) […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.