Friday, December 31, 2021

Journalists' resolves

 Can  you ...

Write about a person's death from cancer without using "a long battle with"?

Describe X, a person  whose situation is representative of your story, without then saying "X is not alone"?

Write about some hugely expensive house, particularly a vulgar McMansion, without calling it "stately"?

Manage never to use "iconic" to describe any person, place, or object? (You knew this one would be on the list.) 

Eschew copspeak ("suspect" for unidentified perpetrator, "ejected from the vehicle" for "thrown from the car," or anything else copied verbatim from the officer's report)?

Never say that "an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death"? (Because why else do they cut people up?)

Forgo using synonyms for "said"?

Write about Mars without ever calling it "the Red Planet"? 

Omit describing what the subject ate for breakfast in an interview story? (Because you weren't important enough to rate a lunch interview.)

Refrain from setting foot in any leafy suburb, sleepy rural town, gritty urban neighborhood, hardscrabble community, or any other place that tempts you to condescend to your subjects?


  1. As one who would has made amateur aspirations toward the Great American Novel, I thoroughly enjoyed these. As a copyeditor of some 20+ years, I've applied many of them to my work.

  2. Does the leafy suburb have well-manicured lawns? Does the sleepy rural town have a local diner with a burnt-out neon sign where the watiresses sling hash? Does the gritty urban neighborhood have smaller, though neat and tidy houses? Does the hardscrabble community mourn its once vibrant Main Street?