Going Forward at the End of the Day – Clichés are one of Journalism’s Best Kept Secrets

Posted on June 3, 2010. Filed under: Public Relations | Tags: , , , , |

My longtime friend and colleague, Chris Pash, Director of Content Licensing at Dow Jones & Co and self-proclaimed “word miner,” was featured in a recent report on The Australian. Chris has spent the last nine years researching clichés in journalism.  In his interview, he explains how he has used Dow Jones Factiva’s extraordinary 30+ year media database as a “deposit of reportage” to further expand and confirm his findings regarding journalistic clichés.

Anchors and reporters of all types must differentiate themselves through their diction and their personality.  But how much of that diction is really their own?  Chris provides solid, quantitative evidence of the most rampant “newsworthy” clichés, and speaks of their proliferation into the media.  Check out a video interview between The Australian reporter Geoff Elliott and Chris.

The seven most overused clichés:

1. At the end of the day
2. Split second
3. About face
4. Unsung heroes
5. Outpouring of support
6. Last-ditch effort
7. Concerned residents


Awhile back, we did some research using Dow Jones Insight, a media analytics tool, to look at clichés – or what David Meerman Scott called “gobbledygook” – in more than 700,000 press releases.  At least 150 of the 325 phrases analyzed got frequent use, which leads me to wonder what kind of role we, as communicators, play in driving the prevalence of clichés in journalists’ work.

What do you think?  Do clichés in journalism show a lack of originality? Are we partly to blame?

Be sure to check out Chris’s latest article in The Australan. He’s also looking for cliché suggestions. To submit ideas, join his Facebook group or visit his blog.

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