7 Words You Should Never Say in a News Story

I’m no “Mr. Language Person,” so I have zero authority to lay down rules. But if I could wave a magic wand and make words vanish from the dictionary, I have a few in mind.

wise-quotes-from-george-carlin-14Seven, to be exact.

George Carlin’s famous bit was “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” (Track No. 3 on the album Class Clown, circa 1972.)

With a tip of the hat to Carlin and for the benefit of news writers and readers everywhere, I humbly present …

7 Words You Should Never Say in a News Story

(1) Utilize

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.38.09 PM“Utilize” is Public Enemy No. 1, in my opinion. Cut this word from your vocabulary, and the world is a better place. I can’t think of a single reason to utilize it in a news story.

(2) Facilitate

facilitate

Another govie favorite. Applied in any sentence, this word facilitates the certain knowledge that the writer is a blowhard.

(3) Implementation

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.50.58 PM

Five syllables that would require a sip in the Harold Washington Drinking Game. (Remember to chug on “juxtaposition.”)

(4) Currently

blog_presentlyorcurrentlyAs in, “We are currently in the process of implementing our utilization plan.” Fire this lazy time reference, and let the verb tense do its job.

(5) Approximately

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.56.06 PM

Use “about.” Avoid “approximately 10 to 15 …”  (Provide the range or add the qualifier, but don’t do both.)

(6) Chicagoland

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 4.57.37 PM.png

Tribune-speak and marketing jargon for “Chicago area.” While this one is region-specific, I’m sure journalists across America have to deal with similar abominations.

(7) Thru

Drive thru neon sign.I blame the “drive-thru” signs at fast-food restaurants for proliferating this sawed-off testimony to illiteracy. Don’t let that four-letter word get thru your defenses and into your news release.

The sad truth is busloads of journalists are frequenting the Lexicon Drive-Thru, and far too many (sob) are buying donuts.

  • Do you have a pet peeve word or words? If so, let us know in the comments field!
Advertisements