I suppose this is a pet subject of mine.
So, I was delighted to stumble upon the Guardian’s POV.
The Guardian style guide offers the following advice:
We are more liberal than any other newspapers, using language that our competitors would not. But even some readers who agree with Lenny Bruce that “take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government” might feel that we sometimes use such words unnecessarily.
The editor’s guidelines are as follows:
- First, remember the reader, and respect demands that we should not casually use words that are likely to offend.
- Second, use such words only when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article; there is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword outside direct quotes.
- Third, the stronger the swearword, the harder we ought to think about using it.
- Finally, never use asterisks, which are just a cop-out.
Now that last point is absolutely on the money and should be standard practice in the Western world.