Chances are your biggest crutch word is “it.” A simple, seemingly throwaway word. Yet, “it” causes so many problems with news copy. That’s because “it” is a big catalyst for exaggeration.
Write any of these lately? It’s not known. Or how about It’s been called… a parent’s worst nightmare, the worst storm, a disaster, a terrible tragedy, a brutal murder. Do your ears hurt yet?
Why is “it” such a catalyst? The definition of “it” is: “Used to refer to a thing previously mentioned or easily identified.” When you use that word in news copy, are you following the definition all the time? Most of us can honestly say no. Newsies often use “it” as a word to dodge something we really do not know or have ability to explain. Hence the “it’s not clear” or “it’s not known” crutches that so often end up in news copy. The worst place to use “it” is in your first line of copy. You need a declarative sentence that clearly states what you are talking about without using a nebulous word like “it.”
So what’s the work around? Making sure you understand the facts. Then if you do use the word, you will do so with the actual definition in mind. That will mean an end to the potential exaggerations, and stronger news copy. Great reasons to dump “it.”