On the first day of class, my twelfth grade AP English teacher handed out a list of wordy phrases that she claimed would result in an automatic F if included in any paper handed in. The usual suspects made the list, including such standby fillers as “due to the fact” (she preferred because) and “whether or not” (there was no debate “or not” was unnecessary). That same year, I first encountered the advice to “omit needless words” in Strunk & White’s classic The Elements of Style — a manual of utilitarian writing style I’ve made a point to read at least annually ever since.
Now there’s a new tool in reporters’ arsenal to keep the clichés at bay. Just as People of Walmart made me double check my attire before leaving the house to go shopping, and Cake Wrecks made it irresistible to walk past a bakery without peeking at their wares… Now, Unnecessary Journalism Phrases has me reading news stories on a quest for tired turns of phrase. Read more