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Got a phrase the folks in the news are driving you batty about?

Click on “Comments” and plug your contribution in there.
Remember, this site is to intended to help professional news people correct bad habits that show up in their work — published or broadcast. If it isn’t in the paper or on the nightly news, it’s not Banned for Life material (which is not to say it shouldn’t be banished, just that it shouldn’t be highlighted here).

Free the geeks

Mr. Brooks, the Times expects more from its columnists than this:

 For as it is written, the last shall be first and the geek shall inherit the earth.

This was clever the first time somebody else thought of it.

Nip the tuck

Joy Hepp avers:

When I was writing for my college entertainment magazine I started
noticing other writers using “tucked away” to describe restaurants or
clubs that were located in otherwise boring locations. Now I notice it
ALL the time. The Thai restaurant is tucked away in a dusty strip
mall. UGH!

Editor’s note: this is a close relative of “nestled.”


Nellie Hill emotes:

Emotionally Charged……..What can I say about this one. People everywhere from waiting in line at Walmart for a Wii to attendees at a vet’s funeral are experiencing this emotional charge. I think I’ve heard it everyday for this last week. (The Washington Redskins, their fans, the victims of the mall shooting in Omaha….AARRGGG!)

‘Alleged’ transgressions

David Malacari from Down Under avers:

ABC Radio ( is particularly bad at overuse of the word ‘alleged‘. I hear it all the time and it drives me to distraction. While you could probably argue that the usage is technically correct its superfluity, in most cases, is maddening. For instance:

Nuttall, Talbot granted adjournment in alleged corruption case

… surely it is a corruption case or it isn’t a corruption case. The allegation would be that Nuttall and Talbot acted corruptly. There is nothing alleged about the case itself.

Driver contacts police after alleged hit-and-run

A driver has handed himself in to police after allegedly hitting a male pedestrian before fleeing in Adelaide’s north east this afternoon. The crash happened in Redwood Park just before 4:00pm. The car was found abandoned in a nearby street soon after. The teenage pedestrian has been taken to hospital with leg injuries.

I would concede the use of ‘allegedly’ in the body, but not in the title. Technically any crime or misdemeanor is only alleged until the moment of conviction, however in practical terms we would normally accept that a crime has been committed and that the allegation refers to suspect’s role. In other words either it was a hit and run or it wasn’t. The allegation is that it was committed by person A, not that it happened.

These are only a couple of examples I found just now on the ABC web site. I am driven mad with newsreaders saying that someone was charged with allegedly doing something. The ABC is rife with allegations!

Skin deep

Comfortable in your own skin. UGH, aren’t you always in your own skin when you’re comfortable? And can you be comfortable in someone else’s skin? Unless it’s one of those Silence of the Lambs things.

So what’s so super about….

Silas Prophet returns with the following:

I would love to find a way to exorcise the word “superstar” from our collective vocabulary. The word has lost all meaning and significance, if indeed it ever had any. Is there any person in the fields of entertainment or sports who hasn’t been tagged, at some time in their careers, as a superstar?
Even politicians (Heaven help us) are now granted superstardom. An NPR interviewer recently introduced Barack Obama as the “superstar senator”. This is a clear sign we’ve gone way too far.
And please don’t get me started on “supermodels“. According to the popular media there is no other kind of model. When I hear of Tiger Woods (or any other “superstar”) and his “supermodel wife” it takes me an hour to unclench my fist, jaw and sphincter.
Until some singer, actor, athlete or statesman appears in blue spandex and red cape with a big “S” on their chest I refuse to acknowledge the “superness” of anyone.
Except, of course, my supervisor.

Three-in-one effort

This just in from Jessica Durkin:

This paragraph is from a Washington Post story, published online and in print 8/13/07 and headlined “A modern history of White House spin.”

Writer Peter Baker manages three bad cliches in two consecutive paragraphs. How hard can it be to use simpler expression?

“As a college professor, Martha Joynt Kumar studied and taught the art of presidential communication for years. But one day, she did what few of her colleagues in academia had: She showed up at the White House, planted herself in the basement along with the reporters who covered the president and started watching the whole process up close. That was in 1995. Now we have the fruits of her labor.

After attending briefings and presidential events for most of the last dozen years, Kumar has seen the sausage being ground for longer than most of the officials and reporters she studies. Her new book, “Managing the President’s Message,” published by Johns Hopkins University Press, pulls back the curtain on the machinations and recriminations that always seem to shadow the interactions between presidents and the media.

Is he serious? Plus, these cliches got passed editors?

Editor’s note: sometimes editors have other fish to fry — like making deadline or correcting erroneous assumptions — that force us to allow such transgressions into the paper.