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:
The [anything] community
Inside the Beltway
It’s the [anything], stupid
That’s just [person’s name] being [person’s name]
It is what it is
Part and parcel
Main Street vs. Wall Street
Critics say it can’t be done. After all, page views are the coin of the realm, and efforting to write cliche-free prose on deadline is a fool’s errand. Needless to say, even in the august pages of The Washington Post’s Outlook section, this list is more honored in the breach.
But ultimately, the list begs the question: If even this hastily convened national conversation can midwife a new way of writing — call it Journalism 2.0 — will the tightly knit community that is the mainstream media finally begin thinking outside the box? Just imagining fewer cliches gives me a palpable sense of relief and bolsters my faith that perhaps this beleaguered industry can avoid an ignominious end.
And here’s the kicker.
THINGS WE DO NOT SAY IN OUTLOOK (updated on March 22, 2013)
Note for non-journalists: “TK” is newsroom-speak for “material to come.”
At first glance
As a society (or “as a nation”)
TK is not alone
Pundits say (or “critics say”)
The American people (unless in a quote)
The narrative (unless referring to a style of writing)
Probe (as substitute for “investigation”)
A rare window (unless we’re talking about a real window that is in fact rare)
Begs the question (unless used properly — and so rarely used properly that not worth it)
Be that as it may
It is important to note that
Needless to say
[Anything] 2.0 (or 3.0, or 4.0 . . .)
At a crossroads