Thursday, 16 June 2011

Journalistic Clichés


acrimonious, amicable Only applied to divorces, which are always either one or the other.
bagpipes always “skirl”
balloon
used as a verb
battle with cancer People don’t die of cancer, they lose their battle with it, don’t suffer it but fight it, don’t recover from it but beat it.
beleaguered
bitter struggle, conflict, dispute etc.
boasts Please don’t use when you just mean “has”.
bolster as a verb. What's wrong with "support"? And when did you last see a bolster?
brutal Writers are fond of "brutal", and like applying it to things that can't be brutal, like "the brutal trajectory of the porn industry". I think this writer meant "unstoppable spread". (Trajectories go up and then down again.)

burgeoning Try "growing".

bustling Try “busy”.

came for happened, occurred, took place, followed, fell, was effected/done/carried out, coincided with. “Her murder comes after the deaths of several journalists…” Guardian July 17, 2007 How about “Her murder follows the deaths…”? I think people are trying to avoid the passive, but this is much worse.
catalyst
combat for fight, oppose, counter
comes after, in the wake of follows
cosset, pamper, indulge, decadence Inseparable from articles about massage, spas or beauty treatments.

draw for prompt, evoke etc
dry facts are always dry, especially in the education debate - see cram, regurgitate etc
erupt
for break out, happen, occur
explode for increase (verb)
explosion for increase (noun)
fan flames for exacerbate
forge for create, give rise to, form
fuel a surge and other inappropriate things
fuelled for impelled, built up, constructed, powered, encouraged, provoked, driven, incited, powered, prompted, facilitated, made possible, instigated, contributed to, promoted, advanced, exacerbated, aggravated, worsened

garner for gain
girding for preparing
good-humoured to describe behaviour of protesters and police
head off for avert, fend off, stave off, ward off, preclude
hurdle for problem, obstacle, barrier
iconic of buildings, means BIG

ignite for set off, cause, prompt etc. It's only used for starting riots, not for setting light to anything. If a riot is “ignited”, rioters will “torch” cars and buildings.

industrial wasteland applied to any collection of industrial buildings which may be “hives of activity” and “bustling” with actual industry. But anything that isn’t residential or natural is a “wasteland”.
isolated beauty spot
The place where the body is found.



jolt
for tilt, disturb

jump for increase, rise


key for core

kick start for start, prompt, cause – it implies that all you have to do is kick the machine and then it’ll run by itself.

level/s for amount/s


lull into a sense of false security Why not soothed, stupefied, tranquillised, sedated?


mane If a woman has grey hair, it's a "mane"

mired in for involved in, embroiled in, caught up in, entangled in, stuck in etc

mobs always bay, while the upper classes bray
mull
is headlinese for consider


nuns No one can mention them without using the word wimple. Most nuns wear ordinary clothes, and have done since the 70s.

ordeal kidnap victims always suffer an ordeal
outpouring
of grief (but upsurge of protest)
plummet for fall
pummel (what waves do to coasts)

reeling everybody reels far too often (still reeling from the shock of…).
relentless, remorseless
progress etc Try "unstoppable", and avoid the pathetic fallacy.

riven for split, divided


saw as in “last year saw an increase in X”, or "Germany has seen". Try “last year X increased”, Germany has experienced or witnessed (or X took place in Germany).

sharply for severely

shrink for lessen, fall

sit for lie, stand "The crypt which sat (and still sits today) beneath the 11th century church." Which lay, and which still exists? The silliest example I ever read was "IBM sits firmly in all three camps".

sit well with for agree with, appeal to, go down well with, find acceptance with

spark for start, cause, prompt, result in, lead to, provoke

spat for row

spawn for cause, give rise to, result in, lead to, generate

spry, sprightly as applied to older men (they're also dapper)

spur for prompt, encourage)

sun beats down



tensions
for ethnic hatred or violence (inflaming tensions New Scientist Nov 09

the bulk of for most
 

Things are called into question, but thrown into disarray
trigger
for cause etc (see spark)

tumult for trouble

tumultuous for potentially violent, troubled, eventful

typically for usually



underscore
for emphasize, highlight, reveal, reflect


unravel lives always unravel
urge
restraint is always “urged”
vibrant
for thriving


wedded to a point of view

weigh for consider

wrenching for disturbing

You don’t care a jot, if asked if you’re worried you say "Not one whit", there is never the slightest whiff of scandal, and you go a tad off course. Milk? Just a dash!

More clichés here.

No comments:

Post a Comment