TV News: Lame Words

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It’s been about seven weeks since I left my job in TV news, and there are certainly some things that I miss about it – such as some of the fun and awesome people that I worked with, and of course helping keep the community informed, especially during bad weather and during fire season.

But there are some things that I definitely do NOT miss – such as reading the horrifyingly-detailed police affidavits and court documents in certain types of cases, and being accused of being either too liberal or too conservative (or being called “fake news”).

Another thing that I do not miss: the endless use of lame and/or downright stupid words and phrases, some of which are due to TV people using them because they have always used them, and some due to press releases from police/sheriff, fire, and EMS agencies. Fortunately, I was in a position to edit/delete/re-phrase them for online articles.

Among them:

  • Officer-involved shooting (Officer/deputy/etc shot an armed robbery suspect)
  • Motorists and/or roadways (drivers and roads)
  • Local (when it’s redundant/stupid, such as “A local Great Falls man…”)
  • Non-life-threatening injuries (injuries are not life-threatening)
  • Vehicle (car, truck, semi, etc)
  • Said in a statement (said in a press release)
  • Multiple (several, or numerous, or the actual number)
  • Physical altercation (fight); verbal altercation (argument)
  • Under investigation (being investigated)
  • Exited the vehicle (got out of the car/truck)
  • Fled on foot (ran away)
  • Went missing (was last seen; was reported missing)
  • Gives back / giving back (donates to; helps community. Seriously WTF. As if the person TOOK something from the community in the first place)

These are just the most obvious and common ones — any others you would like to add to this list?

Please note that this is NOT specific to the TV station that I worked at – these offending words and phrases are used ALL THE TIME by virtually every TV station and newspaper, to varying degrees.

I kind of understand it to a degree when used by police/fire/medical people – using formal, stiff language can be a way to insulate yourself from the gravity of a bad situation, and also using “bigger” words also can sometimes make a press conference or media release seem more “official.” But “cop-speak” (as it is sometimes referred to) should never be copied verbatim by reporters and editors.

BTW, you can check out plenty of examples on the “Tired TV Terms” page on Twitter.



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