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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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