The Press: Four Little Words

When should a newspaper print profanity? For 125 years the answer of the Montgomery Advertiser (circ. 56,266) had been: never. But when Alabama's Governor Gordon Persons publicly and profanely denounced the Advertiser's Political Writer Geoffrey Birt, it seemed to Editor Grover C. Hall Jr. that it was time for a change. For the first time, the Advertiser printed the words "son of a bitch" —and waited for a storm of protest from its readers. By last week the storm signals were down. Only five readers had written in, three of them criticizing the governor.

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