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Newsweek Swears by its Vulgarity

According to The New York Times [1], public television and radio stations are reconsidering their partnership with Newsweek after blogger James McPherson [2] documented a dozen examples of vulgar language in the January 23 issue alone.

The magazine is used as a gift or premium in exchange for donations and has accounted for 90 percent of the money that the Pledge Partner Magazine Premium Program has raised since 1996 for public broadcasters.

Newsweek has undergone several makeovers in the last few years with the most notable occurring after it merged with The Daily Beast last year in an attempt to save the money-losing magazine.

The vulgar language has taken some public broadcasters by surprise. It is making them rethink using Newsweek in future fundraising efforts so as not to offend their donors.

The Times reports on one such instance:

Bill Sanford, chief executive of Lakeland Public Television in Bemidji, Minn., told fellow station executives this month via e-mail that a major donor had complained, and that he, too, wanted his station “to offer premiums that reflect our values. Being family-friendly is one of them.” He suggested that Time or U.S. News & World Report might “fit our values better.”

Despite the criticism, the magazine defended its use of less than family friendly words to the Times.

In a statement e-mailed by a spokesman, Justine Rosenthal, Newsweek’s executive editor, said, “We do not use profanity unless within a quote or in the context of a story and care is taken to ensure it is never used gratuitously.”

Just like in the movies, right?