General Motors today released a list of words it forbids its employees to use when discussing the recent recall of millions of cars. Some favorites among them, and words which frankly I can’t imagine were being used to talk about car accidents in the corporate world anyway, include ‘deathtrap’ ‘widow-maker’ and ‘Kevorkian-esque.’ With this list in mind, I’ve come up with a list of words I’d like to see banned from news coverage.
BLAZE – It’s a fire. I would rather be repetitive and say fire 100 times than utter this word that no one in the history of conversations has ever used to talk about a fire.
RESIDENTS – They are people. Whether they live in a nursing home, a neighborhood, or under a bridge. They are people.
CLOSURE – Anyone who’s suffered a great loss knows there’s no such thing.
MAKESHIFT MEMORIAL – In addition to being the name of my uber-cool fictional news crew band, it is beyond a cliche at this point. I don’t care if it’s one teddy bear or acres of flowers, it’s just a memorial to someone or some event.
ROADWAYS – They are roads.
MOTORISTS – They are drivers.
DEATH TOLL – This many people are now dead.
ALLEGEDLY – Attribute what you need to say to a source. This word doesn’t protect you and it bogs down a sentence.
LISTEN UP – It’s rude.
YOU’LL BE SHOCKED TO SEE/LEARN/KNOW – It’s presumptious. How do I know what may shock someone.
YOUNG CHILD – Children are young. Use their age if you need to be specific.
FOUR MONTH OLD BABY – As opposed to? Use their sex if you need a qualifier or just write a four month old.
AREA MAN/WOMAN – This one is so overused the online satirical news magazine “The Onion” sells t-shirts reading AREA MAN or AREA WOMAN. Say where they’re from. Better yet, say it how you’d tell a friend, “She’s from here.”
DREAM/NIGHTMARE – The cliche to end them all. Can we please come up with a more creative way to describe something going from good to bad? And don’t ever call something a “parent’s worst nightmare.” I have several, thank you.
THE WHITE STUFF – It’s snow. (see: BLAZE)
HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – Really? It’s the airport.
TRAGIC/TRAGEDY- If not banned, the use of these words needs to be scaled back. Everything is not a tragedy nor every accident tragic. Let’s reserve use of these big boys for events that are unparalelled, say 9-11.
Feels good to get that off my chest, and out of my scripts.