I received an email recently from a reader who asked politely if I would cease using expletives in my columns and in my own reporting.
It was an honest ask from William Cooper, a Philadelphia resident, who noted being a weekly reader of this publication.
Here’s what Mr. Cooper had to say:
It would indeed – indeed – be nice to get through one of your weekly columns without having to be subjected to some vulgarity to express your thoughts. The f---- word is not necessary, and it's sophomoric if we're to take your writing seriously. You're an editor for heaven's sake, clean it up, please!
Mr. Cooper’s request is one that raised a few questions about my style of writing. In fact, I read an article a while back in Scientific American that actually cited a study which claims people who swear actually have a more comprehensive vocabulary across the board. I curse a lot, both verbally and in my writing, so here’s hoping there’s some truth to the study.
But what Mr. Cooper’s email did make us collectively think about in the newsroom is at this juncture of a new look and feel for PW, how are we doing? What do you like? What do you hate? As an alt-weekly, are we missing topics that we should be all over in your community? Our news team wants to know, and personally, I’m intrigued to see what more (or less) we could be doing to remain your go-to source for all the things the dailies or other news outlets in this city just don’t have time to report on.
We created a brief survey with a handful of questions that’ll give us insight into how we move forward with our reporting, the type of language we use, the placement of articles, ads, etc.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is your paper. Everyone here is just steering the ship, so if there’s something you like/dislike, we’d love to know.
For you old-schoolers that want the actual website link, you can copy it here: surveymonkey.com/r/8K8TTLB. It’d be easier to just follow us on Twitter or Facebook, where we’ll also host the survey.
Yes, that was a shameless way of inviting you to follow us on social media.
We’ve been at this revamp of PW now for the latter part of just six months. At the halfway mark, we figured it made sense to put feelers out now to see what more we can do to inform Philadelphia. We’re moving forward on a few initiatives in-house that will roll out over the next few months, and I’m personally excited for the revitalization of this jawn.
Quickly changing gears, I’m also excited about this week’s issue, which I thank you for picking up or checking out online.
Perhaps my favorite piece this week is A.D. Amorosi’s deep dive into the life of entertainment magnate David Carroll, who died earlier this month at the age of 81. He was the man responsible for a few revitalizations of his own in this town and growing Philly’s punk and new wave scenes. He’s remembered fondly through a litany of anecdotes that grace this week’s edition. There’s even more than we were able to fit in the book that you can check out on our website.
That’s it for this week, and to answer Mr. Cooper’s question on if I’ll refrain from using expletives in my writing, probably not. But I do thank you for reading what I have to say regardless.