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.
G. Wong offered the following
Some words and phrases are blithely used in the local media without
Free gift: a gift is free by definition
Pool of blood: as in “The man was lying in a pool of
a second thought as to their sensibilities.
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.
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”
“last but not least”
“couldn’t care less” (or erroneously, “could care
“man’s best friend”
“whose ox is being gored”
“man (or woman) who needs no introduction”
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.
Karl Witter sent this voluminous list of suggestions along:
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,
“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.
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.