The top ten: Journalese
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at Queen Mary, University of London, where he teaches contemporary history. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 13 October 2013
Rob Hutton has just published 'Romps, Tots and Boffins', his guide to the strange language of news reporting. No sooner had the book gone to press than he noticed phrases that he had left out. These are called 'glaring omissions' in journalese, and here are 10 of them, most contributed by Hutton himself...
1. 'A light-hearted sideways look' As in: "Newsman Robert Hutton has penned a light-hearted sideways look at the weird and wonderful world of the news."
2. 'An area popular with joggers and dog-walkers' Always the best place to hide a body.
3. 'Pen' as a verb.
4. 'Brandish' What referees do to red cards.
5. 'Silent killer' Anything that might cause cancer in rats that doesn't make a noise. Suggested by Ms Person.
6. 'Frolicked' What actresses do on beaches in full view of the photographers hiding in the bushes several hundred yards away.
7. 'Mercy dash'
8. 'Fired the starting gun' What the Prime Minister will do to the election in every speech for the next 18 months.
9. 'Wheelchair-bound' Let's get rid of it.
10. 'Epidemic' Of anything except actual diseases. Especially "hidden epidemic". Also from Ms Person.
Next week: New clichés that should be banned, eg. embedded, wrap-around
Coming soon: Phrases that ought to be off the menu: artisanal, coulis, drizzled. Send your suggestions (by Tuesday 22 October), and ideas for any future Top 10s, to firstname.lastname@example.org
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