Media Blog

Micromanage, Much?

As a radio guy, this story makes me cringe. The CEO of Chicago’s Tribune Company has ordered staff at the venerable WGN-AM to refrain from using specified words on the air.  Randy Michaels’s edict features a list of more than 100 banned words and phrases that he deems to be overused or technically inaccurate.  Worse, management has instructed staffers to file tattle-tale reports (including the date and time of “violations”) against their colleagues if one of the banished utterances slips out.

Killing cliches is an admirable goal for journalists of all stripes, but this is preposterous.  Here’s the list:

  • “Flee” meaning “run away”
  • “Good” or “bad” news
  • “Laud” meaning “praise”
  • “Seek” meaning “look for”
  • “Some” meaning “about”
  • “Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points.
  • “Yesterday” in a lead sentence
  • “Youth” meaning “child”
  • 5 a.m. in the morning
  • After the break
  • After these commercial messages
  • Aftermath
  • All of you
  • Allegations
  • Alleged
  • Area residents
  • As expected
  • At risk
  • At this point in time
  • Authorities
  • Auto accident
  • Bare naked
  • Behind bars
  • Behind closed doors
  • Behind the podium (you mean lecturn) [sic]
  • Best kept secret
  • Campaign trail
  • Clash with police
  • Close proximity
  • Complete surprise
  • Completely destroyed, completely abolished, completely finished or any other completely redundant use
  • Death toll
  • Definitely possible
  • Diva
  • Down in (location)
  • Down there
  • Dubbaya when you mean double you
  • Everybody (when referring to the audience)
  • Eye Rack or Eye Ran
  • False pretenses
  • Famed
  • Fatal death
  • Fled on foot
  • Folks
  • Giving 110%
  • Going forward
  • Gunman, especially lone gunman
  • Guys
  • Hunnert when you mean hundred
  • Icon
  • In a surprise move
  • In harm’s way
  • In other news
  • In the wake of (unless it’s a boating story)
  • Incarcerated
  • Informed sources say . . .
  • Killing spree
  • Legendary
  • Lend a helping hand
  • Literally
  • Lucky to be alive
  • Manhunt
  • Marred
  • Medical hospital
  • Mother of all (anything)
  • Motorist
  • Mute point. (It’s moot point, but don’t say that either)
  • Near miss
  • No brainer
  • Officials
  • Our top story tonight
  • Out in (location)
  • Out there
  • Over in
  • Pedestrian
  • Perfect storm
  • Perished
  • Perpetrator
  • Plagued
  • Really
  • Reeling
  • Reportedly
  • Seek
  • Senseless murder
  • Shots rang out
  • Shower activity
  • Sketchy details
  • Some (meaning about)
  • Some of you
  • Sources say . . .
  • Speaking out
  • Stay tuned
  • The fact of the matter
  • Those of you
  • Thus
  • Time for a break
  • To be fair
  • Torrential rain
  • Touch base
  • Under fire
  • Under siege
  • Underwent surgery
  • Undisclosed
  • Undocumented alien
  • Unrest
  • Untimely death
  • Up in (location)
  • Up there
  • Utilize (you mean use)
  • Vehicle
  • We’ll be right back
  • Welcome back
  • Welcome back everybody
  • We’ll be back
  • Went terribly wrong
  • We’re back
  • White stuff
  • World class
  • You folks
  • Wow.  My sources inside Tribune say the company’s recent bankruptcy filing and layoffs have already driven morale to new depths. This oppressive micromanagement will not help. You’d think the Tribune suits would spend their time handling bigger concerns these days.

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