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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What goes around comes around

Today’s episode of Little Miss Know-It-All: Clichés.

“Some of our most vulnerable citizens say they’ve been left out in the cold.”

This was on the radio THREE times this morning, and I winced every time. I hate clichés, especially in the mouth of a reporter. For some reason, mediocre reporters think that clichés make their writing better.

Clichés are rude. They grab you by the shirt and demand that you recognize the person’s fabulous writing talents. It’s the equivalent of yelling GET IT? GET IT? in your reader's face.

I am declaring open season on clichés. I’ve had it up to here. (Get it? GET IT??? Man, I have a way with words. I hope you can see how great I am.)

You would think that professional writers would be able to think up new combinations of words, but apparently not. When the city passed its anti-smoking bylaw, almost every news story contained the word “fuming”. (Get it? GET IT???) Restaurant owners were fuming. Bylaw officers were fuming. Smokers were fuming. (HAHAHAHAHAHA.) Of course, most of these people were not actually fuming. They were mildly annoyed. But that doesn’t include a cool play on words that only a professional reporter would be qualified to think up, so everyone is said to be “fuming”.

Ever wonder what happens to reporters who use too many clichés? In a startling and unexpected development, our man on the scene is reporting that they just pat themselves on the back and go on with new and uninteresting clichés. Well, I won’t stand for this anymore – it has been on the back burner for far too long already. I am calling for them to be punnished. (Get it? GET IT???)

Last but not least, I have to take my hat off to those reporters who manage to make their entire STORY a cliché. This takes real effort. I am especially fond of stories about the small-business owner who is struggling against the giant and uncaring government agency that is claiming that he runs a dirty restaurant and his delivery guys are actually door-to-door crack salesmen. Poor fellow! What a shame! What a great story! This is like shooting fish in a barrel! A slam dunk!


Anonymous said...

I don't have a television, but I still see news programming, in airports, and at other people's homes. There is almost never an unexpected thought or perspective in any of these reports. They seem to have been written by people who were asleep, to be watched by people who are also asleep.
Megan, you are frustrated by these cliches because you were brought up without television, and consequently you are expecting television to operate like literature. From what I can see, television works more like booze than like literature.