In a world where many speak without communicating, a radio station CEO in Chicago has issued a memo to his news staff forbidding them to use the following words and phrases in their newscasts. “Newsspeak” has become the norm in our language, words that have little meaning or have lost their meaning, reducing our rich language to lazy cliché.

These 119 words and phrases are so common and used so often that much of our news and information has become one homogenized blob. They have become commonplace and we are all collectively responsible for cheapening our language. I have my own pet peeves of words that radio and television announcers frequently babble causing me to cringe every time that they are uttered, such as “to be honest”, “check it out” and the most egregious, “no question.”

We speak, we listen, but what do we hear?

■“Flee” meaning “run away”
■“Good” or “bad” news
■“Laud” meaning “praise”
■“Seek” meaning “look for”
■“Some” meaning “about”
■“Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
■“Yesterday” in a lead sentence
■“Youth” meaning “child”
■5 a.m. in the morning
■After the break
■After these commercial messages
■All of you
■Area residents
■As expected
■At risk
■At this point in time
■Auto accident
■Bare naked
■Behind bars
■Behind closed doors
■Behind the podium (you mean lectern)
■Best kept secret
■Campaign trail
■Clash with police
■Close proximity
■Complete surprise
■Completely destroyed, completely abolished, completely finished or any other completely redundant use
■Death toll
■Definitely possible
■Down in (location)
■Down there
■Dubbaya when you mean double you
■Everybody (when referring to the audience)
■Eye Rack or Eye Ran
■False pretenses
■Fatal death
■Fled on foot
■Giving 110%
■Going forward
■Gunman, especially lone gunman
■Hunnert when you mean hundred
■In a surprise move
■In harm’s way
■In other news
■In the wake of (unless it’s a boating story)
■Informed sources say . . .
■Killing spree

■Lend a helping hand
■Lucky to be alive
■Medical hospital
■Mother of all (anything)
■Mute point. (It’s moot point, but don’t say that either)
■Near miss
■No brainer
■Our top story tonight
■Out in (location)
■Out there
■Over in
■Perfect storm
■Senseless murder
■Shots rang out
■Shower activity
■Sketchy details
■Some (meaning about)
■Some of you
■Sources say . . .
■Speaking out
■Stay tuned
■The fact of the matter
■Those of you
■Time for a break
■To be fair
■Torrential rain
■Touch base
■Under fire
■Under siege
■Underwent surgery
■Undocumented alien
■Untimely death
■Up in (location)
■Up there
■Utilize (you mean use)
■We’ll be right back
■Welcome back
■Welcome back everybody
■We’ll be back
■Went terribly wrong
■We’re back
■White stuff
■World class
■You folks

Randy Michaels, CEO of the Tribune Company, to his staff at WGN-AM in Chicago.

One Response to “Newsspeak”

  1. John Robinson says:

    Somewhere, George Carlin is smiling.

    I listened to a recording of my first 2 hours on the radio. I said, “we’re back” almost every time I turned the mike on. My goal is to never say it again.

    I have to disagree with, “lucky to be alive” being on the list, though. After several close calls during my 20 years on the fire department, I am, and I know several others, who are indeed, lucky to be alive…. Perhaps we all are.