Expletive undeleted

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Either the NYT has changed its policies, or some editor was asleep at the beeper and let  this through by mistake — "Raptors Drop Expletive and Game to Nets in Playoff Opener", NYT 4/19/2014:

Sparked by a stinging expletive the NBA playoffs got off to an explosive start as the Brooklyn Nets landed the first blow in a suddenly bitter Eastern Conference first round match-up with a 94-87 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday.  Out of the playoffs since 2008, Toronto's return to the postseason was both eventful and controversial, upping the ante in the best-of-seven series.  

With A list celebrities, including rappers Drake, Jay-Z and Beyonce, occupying courtside seats, an embarrassing technical malfunction and a jaw-dropping expletive delivered by Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri to thousands of frenzied supporters at a pre-game pep rally, the first game of the NBA postseason offered a little bit over everything.

Despite topping the Atlantic Division and setting a franchise record with 48 victories, the Raptors have had a harder time winning respect than games. Meanwhile the Nets dropped four of their last five contests, including a 29-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in their season finale, to cement a Toronto match-up.

 The Nets denied any suggestion of subterfuge but Ujiri made his position crystal clear, shouting "Fuck Brooklyn!" at a fan rally outside Air Canada Center prior to the start of Game One.

It's a Reuters wire story, but still — things were different for Bina Shah just a few days ago ("#KholoBC", 4/12/2014).

Obligatory screenshot:


  1. Steve Kass said,

    April 19, 2014 @ 8:39 pm

    Also in the same article:

    "I apologise [sic] to the kids out there and the Brooklyn guys, nothing against them, I was just trying to get our fans going."

    There were no such apologises [sic] forthcoming from fans at a soldout ACC as they took great delight in tormenting Nets players, particularly Kevin Garnett.

    It would be interesting to know what Times policy is on editing what they get from Reuters. The Times editors wouldn’t have let this through if they’d had a pass at it.

  2. Viseguy said,

    April 19, 2014 @ 10:53 pm

    The NYT recently adjusted its guidelines on objectionable language. From The Times' Public Editor Blog, April 3, 2014 (http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/dicey-language-in-the-times-a-view-from-venezuelas-president-and-coverage-of-womens-basketball/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body):

    [quote_from_blog]The Times eased its strictures a bit when it revised its style book recently. Here’s the salient part of the new guidelines:

    [quote_from_guidelines] If the precise nature of an obscenity, vulgarity or other offensive expression is essential to the reader’s understanding of a newsworthy event — not merely to convey color or emotion — editors should consider using the term or a close paraphrase; readers should not be left uninformed or baffled about the nature of a significant controversy. In such cases, a single reference is generally enough to provide the information. (A similar standard applies to reporting of strongly offensive racial or other slurs.)

    If, for example, a high-ranking government official uses a strong vulgarity to address a political rival in a public setting, readers may need to know the exact words to assess the behavior. By contrast, to convey a profile subject’s penchant for vulgar language, a general description will invariably suffice. The argument that reproducing a vulgar expression is necessary to convey atmosphere or intensity of feeling is not compelling.

    The use of strong vulgarity in the name of a website, business, book or movie does not compel The Times to repeat it. Such blunt efforts to grab attention, while increasingly common, need not dictate The Times’s standards. If necessary, describe or paraphrase the name.[end_quote_from_guidelines]

    The new language strikes me as a good move. It keeps the standards high but may help journalists avoid having to twist themselves into knots when writing about the title of a book or web site, or quoting a public official. And the mere effort to rework the stylebook entry suggests that The Times recognized that some change was needed.[end_quote_from_blog]

  3. Jonathan Mayhew said,

    April 19, 2014 @ 11:36 pm

    I always enjoy a good zeugma in any case.

  4. Ted said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 12:40 am

    When the Times replaced the Reuters story with an article about the game by reporter Andrew Keh, this became "he smiled and shouted an obscene taunt toward the Nets."

  5. Rubrick said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 3:17 am

    The article seems rather an odd chimera: For the first 3 paragraphs it appeared to hew to traditional NYT anti-obscenity guidelines, which is to say I had a hard time figuring out what the hell had actually happened and who had shouted what at whom, since they were dancing around the issue. And then suddenly in graf 4 they spelled it right out.

    I think the "sleepy editor" hypothesis is bolstered by the phrase "offered a little bit over everything," which is not in my idiolect and I which suspect is a straight-up error. (The article is also simply rather badly written, expletives aside.)

  6. GeorgeW said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 5:58 am

    The story in today's Times does not have the expletive.


    Although the headline ("Taunts Fly in Toronto, but Nets Get Last Word") and the first paragraph (". . . Masai Ujiri, the general manager of the Toronto Raptors, was already apologizing to children") refer to the expletive, the story seems more focused on the game.

  7. Sili said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 10:05 am

    I apologise [sic] to the kids


  8. D.O. said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 11:23 am

    I never read sports pages thus the question: is it always like this? Confused first sentence, love for zeugma, pointless celebrities name dropping, and generally meandering style.

    [(myl) No — the AP story about the same game is more typically journalistic.]

  9. Mark Mandel said,

    April 20, 2014 @ 12:35 pm

    @Sili: I assumed that the first "[sic]" was for the UK spelling "apologise",thank you Reuters(?). But it may be an inappropriate copy of the second one, on the typo "apologises" for "apologies".

  10. Mara K said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 11:55 am

    "a little bit over everything?"

  11. Meesher said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 12:11 pm

    @Sili & Mark Mandel: I agree that the first "sic" for the British spelling was heavy handed, but that spelling and the more blatant "apologises" seem to prove that no Times editor even glanced at this before it went up.

  12. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 1:41 pm

    As far as I know, the NYT uses American spelling, so allowing "apologise" was a mistake by an editor even though it writing it presumably wasn't a mistake by the Reuters writer. I think "sic" is a reasonable way to call attention to that; I didn't take it as meaning that that British spelling is wrong.

  13. blahedo said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 2:25 pm

    Was the "I apologise" written or spoken? If written, it seems reasonable to keep the quote unchanged—and it's worth noting that it's not just the British, but also the Canadian spelling (relevant because Toronto). I guess the "[sic]" is still justified, but I'd agree that it's sort of heavy-handed.

  14. Bob Ladd said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

    Since when is apologise Canadian spelling? Canadian spelling follows British with -our instead of -or, centre instead of centre, and a few others, but not tyre and kerb for tire and curb, and not normally (to judge from Google counts on .ca web pages) -ise for -ize, either.

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 21, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

    blahedo: It seems "I apologize" was spoken.

    '"You know how I feel, I don't like them, I apologise," Ujiri, told a hastily arranged news conference at the half, in a half-hearted attempt to defuse the controversy. "I apologise it was the wrong choice of words out there.

    '"I apologise to the kids out there and the Brooklyn guys, nothing against them, I was just trying to get our fans going."'

    I hope the writer usually does better than this.

  16. Ray Dillinger said,

    April 24, 2014 @ 5:38 pm

    When I hear an expletive described as "stunning" or "jaw-dropping" etc, I'm usually expecting something a bit spicier than just another banal iteration of "fuck".

    I suppose our perceptions are warped by exposure; many online forums edit out the old boring ones so people are forced to actually use thought and care in coming up with genuinely shocking forms of opprobrium.

    But sports, being intensely physical, evidently don't require anyone to sharpen his wit in such an environment.

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