Under his gun

Robert Markle finds the following in his crosshairs:

  • As an avid target-shooter, I am amazed when I hear television reporters
    explaining that during a particular melee, “shots rang out.
    I have never heard a firearm, irrespective of manufacturer, “ring!”
  • Then, he turned the gun on himself.” What’s wrong
    with “he shot himself?” After all, turning a gun on oneself
    might legitimately describe the act of readjusting a holster.
  • A free pool of blood

    G. Wong offered the following

    Some words and phrases are blithely used in the local media without
    a second thought as to their sensibilities.

  • Free gift: a gift is free by definition
  • Pool of blood: as in “The man was lying in a pool of
  • Action…. against: a catch-all term to mean punishment without
    saying much. Sometimes the paper, radio or TV stations will proffer
    the details but often won’t, leaving us to read between the lines.
    eg “Action will be taken against Anwar Ibrahim.”
  • Nabbed & transparency: as in detained, and public accountability
    _ the latter often used in govt.-speak to urge agencies or businesses
    to be more transparent.
  • Percentages: often misused when percentage points up or down
    are meant. Telekom Malaysia’s pre-tax profit was down 12 percentage
    points from 48 percent. Hardly the same as a 12 percent reduction.
  • Notes from an English teacher

    Anyone who says “the wave of the future” is clearly “mired
    in the past,” says retired English professor Helen H. Gordon, who
    defines a composition teacher as one who, for the love of good writing,
    reads more bad writing than she’d ever have to read in any other occupation.
    The Professor submits these choice annoyances:

  • “the bottom line”
  • “blow-by-blow description”
  • “last but not least”
  • “unsung hero”
  • “couldn’t care less” (or erroneously, “could care
  • “man’s best friend”
  • “sacred cow”
  • “whose ox is being gored”
  • “man (or woman) who needs no introduction”
  • Safely ahead

    From Paul Murray, editor of The West Australian:

  • Safe haven. What other sort of haven could there be?
  • Ahead of. A dreadful television term rapidly replacing the lovely “before” in newspapers.
  • Not exactly a day at the beach

    Karl Witter sent this voluminous list of suggestions along:

    Banned images:

  • The intrepid reporter standing at a beach’s high-water mark in the onslaught of a hurricane or other coastal storm. I’m waiting to see a wave crashing over the reporter, and, after subsiding, the
    camera op reeling in a snapped cable with no mic or reporter attached.
  • The transitional bantering in which news anchors, meteorologists and sports anchors appear on screen together for several seconds.
  • Banned words (not including spillover from the corporate lexicon):

  • “And you’re not going to believe this…”, “Get
    ready for this…”, or similar, prefacing a TV news story which
    will shock us with needlessly tragic human suffering or bureaucratic
  • Grow” as a verb done by the subject to the object. One grows neither the economy nor a dog. One can feed a puppy, house-train it, and take it to the vet. Then it grows.
  • Random violence” isn’t; lightning is. The phrase
    seems to have been invented for contemporary street and blue-collar
    crimes, and gangs. Old-fashioned American shootouts, from the Old
    West to the Roaring Twenties, needed no such distinction for the accidental
    shooting of non-involved bystanders.
  • The mother of all…” is this decade’s mother
    of all cliches.
  • Abortion clinic,” “abortion doctor“. Hmm…nobody’s called John Salvi’s victims “abortion receptionists” yet. Hey, I’m just glad the press hasn’t adapted the right-to-lifers’ terminology and started calling women’s health clinics “fetus
    farms”! (Half-kidding but barely.)
  • xxx-ly correct” when one really means “just
    plain accurate and right.” Included uses of note are geographically
    correct, historically correct, and, the winning stretch-of-phrase,
    orinthologically correct.
  • Politically correct” applied ex-post-facto to
    anything. Someday a journalist will describe the Underground Railroad,
    the Pure Food and Drug Act, or the Taylor Act as “P.C.”
    Actually, “politically correct” is a “feely” word
    with no definition anymore. Restrain its use to the original higher-education
    meaning and trash it in other arenas.
  • Raining 110 percent performers

    Greg Wait has multiple irritations, probably the direct result of watching
    too many local TV newscasts:

  • One phrase that always bothered me is, “Pouring down rain,” as in, “It was pouring down rain all week.” As opposed to
    what? Molasses? Sprite?
  • A distinction of language that many journalists seem to miss is
    the difference between “less” and “fewer.”
    More and more the word “less” is being used in instances
    where “fewer” is appropriate. The difference is simple —
    if you want less traffic, you need fewer cars.
  • And please, would everyone stop “giving 110%?”
    It’s mathematically impossible, and you’re making the rest of us look
    bad. 100% will be just fine.
  • In conclusion,” don’t tell me you’re finished,
    just stop talking or writing. I’ll figure it out. And no more “wrapping
    it up
    ,” as in, “That just about wraps it up.”
    If I hear that one more time, I’m going to drive down to the local
    station and rap someone upside of his head.
  • Dreams to nightmares

    From Ed Hersh

  • I’m a former newspaper reporter, now a producer at ABC News, and
    have spent the better part of my career collecting bad TV cliches.
    In fact, I once produced a noon newscast on KYW TV in Philly on a
    July 4th, and it rained. I counted no less than THREE uses of “the
    rain didn’t dampen the spirits of…” during the first 10 minutes
    of the program.
  • Here are a few more:

  • …Only time will tell
  • It was supposed to xxx’s dream house. But last night, a fire turned xxx’s dream… into a nightmare.
  • Roads are slippery, so officials say if you don’t HAVE to go out… for gosh sakes, don’t.
  • Negotiations are continuing, but both sides say they’re prepared for a long strike.
  • “It sounded like a freight train,” said one terrified
  • People here say they’re hoping for the best… but preparing for the worst.
  • Treacly TV

    From Jeffrey Whitmore:

    Ban forever the wrap-up line so loved by TV news people:

  • “. . . and that’s what it’s all about!” It’s typically
    uttered (with a smarmy smile) after a heartwarming shot of an indigent
    family eating day-old bread donated by the corporate sponsors of a
    golf tournament in Palm Springs,Pebble Beach, or on the north forty
    of the Taj Mahal.
  • And do away with its sickening brethren:

  • . . . “but the big [or real] winner in the event was charity.
  • On reflection, Jeffrey added the following:

  • Soon after I sent the “charity” cliche I recalled another,
    possibly more cloying one. It’s the spunky lede that begins with a
    truism. Next comes an invitation to the reader to agree. And then
    comes the zinger. For example:
  • “Real gourmets don’t drink red wine with fish, right?


  • Another purgative worthy of banishment:

  • Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I just ran an “exact phrase” Hotbot web search on the expression
    and came up with 2,961 citations. For each of the many I checked out,
    I could readily imagine fifty billion or so statements that were further
    from the truth.