Fucking Lame

The Trib's not-so-edgy Get Out, pulled for "fucking."

Quiz time, ladies and germs: What old Anglo-Saxon word just cost the East Valley Tribune (owned by Freedom Communications, Inc.) $12,000? Here's a clue: it rhymes with schmuck, and only a schmuck would pay $12K for it. I'm talking about the word "fuck," of course, specifically "fucking," which happens to be the middle name of one of the most popular DJs in the Valley; i.e., Mr. William "Fucking" Reed, well-known for spinning the wheels of steel at the Rogue in Scottsdale, and various other venues 'round town. Seems the Trib's Thursday entertainment supplement Get Out ran a blurb on November 30 for a WFR gig at the swankish Pussycat Lounge in Scottsdale. Fearing reprisals from their cane-wielding, alter kocker readership, editors nixed William's middle name, and replaced it with the word "expletive" in parentheses, recalling the days of President Richard Nixon and Watergate where White House tape transcripts were riddled with the phrase "expletive deleted." Later, some naughty staff member replaced "(expletive)" with "Fucking." The Trib, realizing the error, changed it back, and pulled Yahweh knows how many papers and destroyed them, lest one of the Tribune's aged subscribers be upset while gumming their a.m. Cream of Wheat and perusing the music listings with an eagle eye.

Sound retarded? Take a look at the text of the internal e-mail below which Trib editor Jim Ripley sent out to "Team Trib," chastising the bad apple amongst them for this "unprofessional act."

From: Ripley, Jim
Sent: Wednesday, November 29, 2006 5:46 PM
To: DL - All Editorial
Subject: an unprofessional act

Dear Team Trib:

This afternoon as more than 100,000 copies of Get Out were rolling off the press, Jess Harter discovered that someone had inserted the F word in the bold-faced title of a band. Through audit trails, we know that the original version contained the term (expletive). So someone in our newsroom or in the newsrooms of our sister newspapers opened the Get Out plan and deliberately changed the copy. The cost to the company to destroy the altered copies of Get Out approaches $12,000. But more important than the money, I share with Karen a deep disappointment that someone would do this. In my entire 14+ years at the Trib, it's been a joy for me to work with a team of honorable professionals. And I continue to work with a great team of honorable professionals, save for somebody who chose to dishonor our team and through their anonymity force me to write this message to the others. I can only ask that we all be diligent in proofing pages, knowing that this could happen! again. I also ask that, if someone notices a colleague on a plan that they would normally not be on, ask questions or ask a supervisor to ask questions. It should go without saying that no one should be opening a plan that they are not working on.

Jim Ripley

This wins my weekly irony award for a few reasons. First off, William's gig was at the Pussycat Lounge, and anyone who's been to that eye-candy emporium knows the title ain't referring to Fritz the Cat. Then there's the fact that Get Out is supposed to be the Trib's "edgy" insert, appealing to the 20-to-30-something crowd. As you can see by the reproduction of the cover above, with its upside-down Xmas tree, this was intended as G.O.'s anti-holidays issue, for those not into all the seasonal cheer. Doubt very much the demographic the Trib's courtin' here would be ruffled at all by the F-word. This was hardly a headline, and the type point is so small you practically need a magnifying glass to read it.

Lastly, the Trib is infamously cheap, "so cheap, they don't want to even pay for a trip to Tucson," one pal told me. And yet they can afford $12K on a tiny, insignificant error such as this?

Asked to comment, Editor Ripley would only say, "You got the memo, I wish you hadn't, because I think it's an internal matter between my associates and me, and so I'm not going to say anything more about it. It's an internal issue."

Well, Jim, fucking usually is, ya know?

For the record, whenever the New Times mentions William Fucking Reed, we either use "Fucking," or "F#@kin'," which our clubs editor thinks looks funnier. So it goes without saying, that we here at the New Times are not afraid of fucking. Unless you're fucking up, which we'll leave to Mr. Ripley to do to the tune of $12K on a regular basis.

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