Back to Top

Forbidden words?

Tribune Companies CEO Randy Michaels has informed WGN-AM staff, through ND Charlie Meyerson, they should not use certain words on air.  Meyerson explained in a subsequent memo “The real goal here is to avoid using words that make you sound like you’re reading, instead of talking — that shatter the image you’re speaking knowledgeably to one person. By not using ‘newsspeak,’ you enhance your reputation as a communicator.” Meyerson also asked his staff to report on-air violations of the new policy to management.

Judge for yourself which of the 119 words/phrases should not be used on air.  The misspelling 'lecturn' below is original to the list.

“Flee” meaning “run away”
“Good” or “bad” news
“Laud” meaning “praise”
“Seek” meaning “look for”
“Some” meaning “about”
“Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
“Yesterday” in a lead sentence
“Youth” meaning “child”
5 a.m. in the morning
After the break
After these commercial messages
Aftermath
All of you
Allegations
Alleged
Area residents
As expected
At risk
At this point in time
Authorities
Auto accident
Bare naked
Behind bars
Behind closed doors
Behind the podium (you mean lecturn)
Best kept secret
Campaign trail
Clash with police
Close proximity
Complete surprise
Completely destroyed, completely abolished, completely finished or any other completely redundant use
Death toll
Definitely possible
Diva
Down in (location)
Down there
Dubbaya when you mean double you
Everybody (when referring to the audience)
Eye Rack or Eye Ran
False pretenses
Famed
Fatal death
Fled on foot
Folks
Giving 110%
Going forward
Gunman, especially lone gunman
Guys
Hunnert when you mean hundred
Icon
In a surprise move
In harm’s way
In other news
In the wake of (unless it’s a boating story)
Incarcerated
Informed sources say . . .
Killing spree
Legendary
Lend a helping hand
Literally
Lucky to be alive
Manhunt
Marred
Medical hospital
Mother of all (anything)
Motorist
Mute point. (It’s moot point, but don’t say that either)
Near miss
No brainer
Officials
Our top story tonight
Out in (location)
Out there
Over in
Pedestrian
Perfect storm
Perished
Perpetrator
Plagued
Really
Reeling
Reportedly
Seek
Senseless murder
Shots rang out
Shower activity
Sketchy details
Some (meaning about)
Some of you
Sources say . . .
Speaking out
Stay tuned
The fact of the matter
Those of you
Thus
Time for a break
To be fair
Torrential rain
Touch base
Under fire
Under siege
Underwent surgery
Undisclosed
Undocumented alien
Unrest
Untimely death
Up in (location)
Up there
Utilize (you mean use)
Vehicle
We’ll be right back
Welcome back
Welcome back everybody
We’ll be back
Went terribly wrong
We’re back
White stuff
World class
You folks