George Carlin famously defined “The Seven Dirty Words You Can’t Say on Television.” (And it’s till funny, even if a number of the words are now said on TV; check out the Wikipedia article.)
Now Randy Michaels, CEO of Tribune Co., recently issued a list of words and phrases he does not want WGN-AM reporters to use on the air.
Some make sense: “Two to one margin . . . (since) ‘Two to one’ is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.” Or the mispronunciations of Iraq and Iran as “Eye Rack” and “Eye Ran.”
Some are journalistic cliches:
- Area residents (why not just “residents”?)
- Clash with police
- Killing spree
- Our top story tonight
- Perfect storm
- Senseless murder
There are some who are criticizing Michaels for the list at a time when you might assume the CEO of the bankrupt Tribune Co. would be busy with more important financial matters. But I think he’s right — a lot of the terms he banned are cliches that don’t move the story forward. After all, referring to some (also a banned word) murders as “senseless” seems to imply that you could classify some as “sensible murders.”
The entire list is available here.