A guide to journalists’ most-loved cliches

A guide to journalists’ most-loved cliches

Pity the poor editor seeking to avoid cliches. It is a futile attempt that, for better or worse, only shines a spotlight on what has become the new normal.

Be that as it may, it is fun. Over the past couple of years, I have joined with colleagues throughout The Washington Post, especially the inimitable Anne Kornblut, to collect cliched words and phrases that journalists rely on too much — indeed, at their peril. It was a little-noticed collection that has suddenly become oft-cited, perhaps even going viral.

After Jim Romenesko posted the list on his blog, I expected pushback from the powers that be, who might want to double down on their use of such terms. Instead, we received support from a dizzying array of sources, in particular through a feeding frenzy of retweets and e-mails. Clearly, this hot-button issue struck a nerve.

We learned that picking winners was a favorite Washington parlor game. Indeed, the list became a Rorschach test, if you will, for how you perceive journalism in the 21st century, particularly with the rise of the 24-hour news cycle. Friends told me the list was being passed around in other newsrooms, making me feel like a most unlikely revolutionary. It was a paradigm shift — at least for now.

To be sure, the list was incomplete. But rather than shutter it, we’ve added many more #bannedphrases sent from throughout the Fourth Estate, official Washington and beyond. Herewith, a dozen examples:

Continue reading →


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read more.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.

Facebook Comments

Disqus Comments