The top ten: Visual clichés
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 23 June 2013
Mark Wallace asked if I could add pictures to my Banned List of clichés, and nominated the first here. Lloyd Bracey, who teaches TV journalists, persuaded me to ban reporters referencing stormy waters, for example, over footage of the sea. But this is different. This is about reaching for the most obvious image with which to illustrate an abstract subject.
1. Wedding cake decorations for reports and features about gay marriage
2. Poignant empty swings for stories suggesting that the authorities have failed children – nominated by Callum May.
3. Stretch of police incident tape for any article about crime – Ben Knights
4. The flames from gas-cooker rings for rising energy prices – Terry Stiastny
5. Faceless greebo lights a gigantic bifta, all but hands and lips obscured, for any story about drugs – Ed Pemberton
6. The statue on the Old Bailey roof for anything to do with the law or justice – Chris Bartlett
7. Pictures of people from the neck down for stories about obesity.
8. A woman with her head in her hands for all mental-health stories – Becca Reilly-Cooper
9. Precarious stack of coins for personal finance stories – Tom Powdrill
10. Aerial montage of suburbia for TV reports on property markets. Used, obviously, because we don't know what houses look like – "Bubblejet"
Next week Top 10 Best Prime Ministers We Never Had; let us have your nominations for the week after, Top 10 Most Over-Rated 1960s Bands, or suggest a Top 10 on Twitter @JohnRentoul or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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