If you're like me, you get a little tired of trying to pick the facts out of the hyperbole in newspapers, magazines and especially television. Here is a website that should be compulsory reading for any current or would-be journalist. The following are only a few excerpts. There's lots more at the site. http://www.newswriting.com/groaners.htm Aftermath - Print words dont belong in spoken copy. Do you know anyone who says aftermath in normal conversation? When we were kids, aftermath came recess. Against the Backdrop - Are you writing copy or painting theater scenery? Leave the backdrops to the carpenters. If you want to explain the facts behind a story, explain them, period. You don't have to say, "The President's visit to the Middle East comes against the backdrop of renewed fighting." Why not try, "The President is arriving in the Middle East just as new fighting breaks out." Allegations - I deny the allegations... and I deny the alligator! This bloated substitute for claims, charges or accusations is as bad as allegedly. Nobody in real life uses it. Unless theyve been watching too much TV news. Allegedly - NOBODY, not even cops and district attorneys, NOBODY in real life says allegedly in regular conversation. Do you tell your neighbor that someone allegedly broke into your house? Do you tell your buddy that the mayor allegedly took a bribe? Why then, would you say such a thing to your television neighbors?! If youre worried about legal protections, try these alternatives: Police say Jones broke into the store. Prosecutors are claiming Smith embezzled the money. The U.S. Attorney says the Congressman took a bribe. Amid, Amidst - Print words. Newspapers may get away with them, as substitutes for in the middle of, but we write for the ear... and any ear that hears amidst will soon be telling the brain to click the remote. Area residents. Shhh, Tommy, dont play the drums so loud, youll wake the area residents! Normal people dont refer to their neighbors this way. Why should we? Arraigned - Yes, its a formal court procedure and you dont want to mess with it. Just one problem. You may know what arraigned means, but Joe Sixpack thinks it means he needs an umbrella. Courtroom stories are complicated enough. Dont make things worse with terminology designed by, and intended for bureaucrats. Ditch the term. Use the EXPLANATION of the term instead. Say the guy appeared in court. Say he faced a judge. Say he was formally charged. Say how he pleaded. Dont say arraigned. Authorities Say - see Officials Say Behind Bars - Trite way of saying arrested and jailed. Not even very accurate anymore. Most modern jail cells use steel doors, not bars. (Thanks to Jonathan Koynok) Botched Robbery, Robbery Gone Bad - Like unsuccessful suicide, this is just plain silly. If some punk tries to rip off a 7-Eleven, and the cops show up, so he takes hostages, thats not a robbery gone bad. It was bad at the start. We dont need to feel sorry for the idiot who botched his chance to empty the cash register and decided to become a kidnapper. Lets just say what happened, and leave the judgments to the folks watching. Brutal - Often used to describe a rape or a murder, as if there were any other kind. (Thanks to Anne Linaberger, Executive Producer, KDKA-TV Pittsburgh) Campaign Trail - What, exactly, is a campaign trail, anyway? Are there covered wagons? Does Campaign Cookie rustle up Campaign Grub? Do folks munch Campaign Trail Mix as they warble yippieiocayay through the precincts? Why do writers feel a compulsion to use this terrible term? Just say where the candidate is, and get on with it.