Thursday, August 09, 2007

Update On Swearing in Podcasts

After writing a post specifically about Slate's podcasts I noticed Dan Savage (my old boss) linked to my post on The Stranger's Slog. (Tip to newbie bloggers, it seems people like to "technorati" themselves.)

I sent an e-mail to several writers at Slate including Dana Stevens, John Dickerson and Andy Bowers (who's actually the editor in charge of the podcasts).

Bowers wrote me back and I asked permission to quote his e-mail on my blog, which he granted.

Hi Rachel,

As you've noticed, we haven't actually settled on a firm bleeping policy. In general, there's no prohibition on swearing in Slate podcasts, but we're also trying to take the legitimate concerns of our listeners into account.

We have received complaints from people who were playing our podcasts over speakers in their homes or cars, and within earshot of children, and who were unpleasantly surprised by the odd expletive. We're trying to devise a way to address these concerns without needless censorship.

One additional hiccup is that our publishing system doesn't allow us to mark individual podcasts as explicit. We'd have to apply that label to the entire feed, which doesn't make sense either.

I think what we may settle on is a short spoken notice at the beginning of a podcast that alerts listeners to explicit language. This would give parents a heads up without subjecting everyone to those annoying bleeps.

I hope that helps.

Andy Bowers
I think a verbal warning at the beginning seems like a fair compromise between no warning and bleeping. I'm frankly amazed that there are tech savvy enough parents who a) listen to a podcast over a car speaker, b) listen to it with children in the car. Literally how many children under the age of, I don't 13, listen to or are forced to listen to (by parents) Slate podcasts? It's got to be under 100 children nationwide. My love for Slate podcasts is kind of like my love of NPR: vaguely geeky and elitist. Slate is cooler than NPR...but not that much cooler.


Anonymous said...

Plenty of elite well-educated liberal hipsters in their thirties/forties are breeding now, they are Slate's target audience. I wouldn't be surprised if huge numbers of them are subjecting their kids to podcasts, although I am surprised that any of them are uptight about a couple of f-bombs. Must be the vocal minority- one or two complaints would do it.

On a vocal minority tangent, here in Seattle they ended a bus wrap advertising program that pulls in over $700,000 of revenue per year, because they got over a hundred complaints about it. (Sorry, I can't find the article that specified the number of complaints, but here is some additional info texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=bumper26m&date= 20070226) That means each complaint was worth $7,000. Is there going to be a fare increase because of one hundred whiners? Are those complainers going to help make up the revenue lost, or are we all going to bear the cost?

-Spub, complaining about complainers

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Newscat.
Slate is WAAAAYYY cooler than NPR.