So Cliche! Overused Phrase List

completely/totally  destroyed   – destroyed

completely/totally engulfed –  destroyed, most of (building etc) is burning

wreaked havoc – caused a scene, caused a mess

very professional – professional

manhunt – search for

the nation’s midsection – middle america, just list the city or state

we’re live – (reporter) is there right now,  let’s look at..

as you can see –  if you can, watch this (remember people often are doing this like cooking meals when news is on)

let’s get right to it – now let’s (talk about, consider)

slain- killed

Take a listen – listen

gunned down – shot

terrible tragedy – tragedy

packs a powerful punch – damaging, strong

shots rang out – people heard gunshots

we’re getting word – (reporter) just let us know…

taken to the streets – we’re asking people, people are protesting

budget ax – cut from budget

action-packed -exciting

apprehended – arrested

area residents – people living here, neighbors, families here

arrived at the scene –  got there, is there now

at large – missing

authorities – name the agency, deputies, city police, detectives etc

to the tune of – just say the amount of money

alcohol was a factor – person was drunk

clouds of uncertainty – uncertain, unclear

altercation – fight

claimed the life – killed

cautiously optimistic – hopes for the best

blaze – fire, flames, describe what fire looks like

clings to life – still alive

conflicting reports – differing information

continue to investigate – we’ll keep checking on this for you

citizens – people, neighbors

checkered career – past controversies, trouble in the past

coffers – just say budget or money set aside

combed – looked over

complete report – finished study, finished investigation, all the findings

fights for his life – badly hurt, still in hospital, the injuries are very serious

residence – home

occurred – happened

subject – man, wom

first annual – just say first

prior to- before

deceased- dead

passed away – died

battle brewing – battle, debate

citizen input – your calls or emails, letters

cleared first or last hurdle – got a step closer

local – if it isn’t you shouldn’t be covering, say which neighborhood/town specifically

turned gun on himself/herself – shot himself/herself

transported – taken

finishing touches – finishing, almost finished

fire swept through – fire burned (how much?)

gearing up – getting ready

hanging in the balance –  (just day condition of person or issue)

gruesome – just say what was, a murder, shooting, person was attacked, serious car crash

grisly – just say what was, a murder, shooting, person was attacked, serious car crash

brandishing a firearm – has a gun, rifle

bottom line – use only for special branded segments in newscast

transpire – happen

persons – people

homeowner – family, people, neighbor

folks  – (not casual, offends some people ) people

due deliberation – discussion, consideration

easy prey – (editorializes and usually is used about a victim, just avoid )

embattled – just explain controversy or say troops at war or in battle

went missing – missing, disappeared at (time)

fled on foot – ran away

behind bars – in prison, in jail

officials – use specific title, city manager etc

authorities – use specific department name or say sheriff or deputy or police officer

incident – explain what happened, or say police are investigating and say what happened instead of this incident.

intoxicated – drunk

male/female – man,woman

automobile, vehicle – car, suv, truck, pickup

amid allegations – while under investigation, while this is being checked out

bitter strike – leave word bitter out

shots rang out – you could hear gunshots

lucky to be alive –  just describe what happened

could not be reached for comment – we called, we haven’t heard back yet

blessing in disguise – just describe what happened

produce – make

reside – live

youth – boy, girl, teenager, college student

police are investigating – people assume this, news if they aren’t.  Just say we’ll let you know what police find out

appearance of impropriety – looks like something is wrong, looked like something is wrong

believe it or not – ( shouldn’t everything on the news be believable?) this is interesting, we found something that surprised us

facility – building, name specifically if can

high rate of speed – driver was speeding

terminate- end

breaking news – only use if really happening right at airtime, can also say let’s look at what’s happening right now.

speaking out – use sparingly, better to explain issue. Example: So and so is trying to get your attention about… , this group wants to explain…

standing by- again, just explain situation in plain language. Examples:  (Reporter) is going to tell you about this in 3 minutes, we have a (lawyer, political analyst etc) in the newsroom to tell you more in 2 minutes

standing by (not a typo, this is for another meaning ) if you are using to describe witnesses just say people saw what happened instead of people were standing by.

chalked up a victory- won

charges are pending -police tell us this person will be charged

white stuff – just say snow

fully engulfed – whole building (car, house etc)  is on fire

parents worst nightmare – just don’t use this, delete from your mind permanently, just describe what happened

made ultimate sacrifice- again just say what happened

in the wake of – just describe the cause and effect, because of this, that happened

massive – just delete massive and use the word after like storm or fire, describe pictures instead to show how big

fled- ran

pronounced dead on the scene – died

tragic – just say what happened, all deaths and accidents are tragic in a way

shocked – do not use, very little is shocking to some, everything is shocking to others.

exclusive – use sparingly so it really counts when you get a big break on a story.

devastating – (you don’t want to overemphasize event or trivialize the word devastating) just say what happened.

terrifying  – (again using this word can easily put more weight on something than it deserves) just say what happened.

tragic death – every death can be tragic to a relative/friend etc just say death.

senseless – unnecessary, if its a murder or accident viewers infer senseless.

dead body – if you are saying body, it’s dead. Use one word or the other.

switching gears – this is lazy writing, if you cannot write a transition line, do not take a 2 shot,  instead switch anchors and get right into the story.

everyone is talking about – simply not true.  Do not use.

end result – result

the latest- viewers assume you are giving them the latest, unless you tell them otherwise.

alarming- may be to you, not to a viewer

surprising – again, may not be to a viewer

wall street to main street – what does that really mean? Just explain situation

that time of year- throwaway line

elections just around the corner – throwaway line, just get to it.. “now let’s talk about the upcoming election.”

controversy – just describe situation

concern – worry, problem

past history- history

allegedly – this one is so bad, it hurts to type on the list.. erase from your mind unless you would like to potentially get your station sued. It doesn’t protect you. Do not use.

new at (newscast time) – this one seems hard to replace because the bosses bug you to say new all the time. Viewers assume what you tell them is new unless you tell them otherwise.  Again, this is a weak transition line. Avoid.

enthusiast ( as in jogging enthusiast, health enthusiast etc) – just say the person likes (jogging, follows health issues etc)

makeshift memorial – just say memorial

pain at the pump – overused, not clever anymore, just talk about gas prices

details ahead- throwaway line, write tease, and say hear all about it in (number) minutes

city’s latest homicide- not conversational, go informal like ” another person killed today in (town), here’s what happened)

aftermath – damage left, clearly state the effect of action describing

allegations – claims, charges, accusations

arraigned – went before a judge, formally charged, appeared in court

botched robbery – just describe what happened

campaign trail – what does this mean? just say so and so made a campaign stop in (town name)

clinging to life – not conversational, and at this point seems insensitive to viewers

estranged- separated

as we speak – if I’m not talking does it not happen? Just say right now.

amid- in the middle of

center stage – if it’s not important, you won’t be telling viewers. Just get to story.

clean bill of health – dr says everything is fine.

death toll – just say how many are dead.

killing spree – mass murder, multiple killings

up in arms -upset, angry, demanding change

lay the groundwork – prepare

hot seat- in trouble

in the wake of – phrase makes no sense! Because of

pedestrians- walkers

prompted- just explain the cause and effect scenario

stable condition – doesn’t mean anything really

weather the storm –  so and so is trying to get past..

to name a few – for example, some of the people involved..

mastermind – person behind

motorist -driver

emotions ran high – just say people got upset

clash with police – protesters are fighting with police

chanting slogans –  say what the protestors are saying

embroiled (in a scandal)- caught in, part of , is in the center of

firestorm of controversy – just say what the controversy is

famed – famous, well known

first leg of – first part

hospitalized- in the hospital

it’s not known- investigators or (we) don’t know the answer to this yet,

it’s not clear   – we don’t have all the information yet on….

fell to his/her death – so and so fell, then died

deadly fall – again, so and so fell, then died

details are sketchy – we don’t have all the information yet

heating up –  for tensions, just say more discussion on.. for a political race, just say the race is getting closer according to polls

held talks- had a meeting, is talking about

here at home – just avoid, transition by subject like such and such is also a problem in Denver…

staffer – just say job title or so and so works for the governor

under the belt –  creates a visual no one needs, do not use

below the belt -unfair move, again this is a visual no one needs

is -ing combinations – this is a sign you are not writing concisely enough

authorities say – who are the authorities? Detectives? The mayor? Say who it is.

flurry of activity – busy

fueling the debate – this attempt at imagery is just goofy. You do not have to put pictures in your viewers heads, you show them the pictures on the screen.

using investigative techniques – Huh? What does this mean? Investigating, checking things out, looking ..

in broad daylight – just say when it happened, in the morning, afternoon, around 2pm etc. If using to try and showcase it’s a time when people are around, say that. This happened in a busy parking lot, this happened when most of us normally are out running errands.

it- this is a big catalyst for exaggeration in copy.  Think about it (sorry couldn’t resist :)) Most of the time, you use the word to start cliche’s like it’s not known, it’s been called a parent’s worst nightmare.. etc.  Avoid it, avoid overused phrases.

reeling – What does that mean? People are upset? People don’t know where to start cleaning up from a storm? People lost homes? Say what people are actually doing.

reduced to rubble – no points for alliteration. Say the building collapsed, the roof fell down.. specifics please!

set the stage – newsrooms and political races have plenty of drama, but we are not writing about a show in a theater.  No stage references please.

media circus – do elephants show up?  This attempt at a visual is unnecessary and corny.  If it’s a crazy mess.. SHOW THAT.

team coverage – marketing term that is just corny for a viewer. Do you ever hear non news people talking about a big event and say ” station so and so had team coverage.” Instead say, we have several reporters looking into this situation for you, or we are going to take you to all the areas impacted by this..

loss of life – death, someone died.

pound the pavement – what does that really mean? Taking a walk?

waking up to – just explain the story, weak transition line.

sticker shock – just say the price of gas.

breaking overnight – just say this happened overnight, term breaking isn’t conversational unless it’s about a glass falling onto the floor.

beat the heat – overdone, just state it’s hot and maybe the high temp.

according to – just directly source.. The state attorney says, detectives tell us.. etc

stepping down – quit or fired

plus -and/also

tying the knot- got married

calling it quits – getting divorced

first responders – police/fire just got here

rain event – a lot of rain

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