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Fight Clichés Like the Plague!

Posted by ESC on January 14, 2003

National Public Radio
Media Matters

Jan. 13, 2003
Note to NPR Editors: Fight Clichés Like the Plague!

By Jeffrey A. Dvorkin
Ombudsman
National Public Radio

Writing for the radio is different from other forms of journalism. It's writing for the ear, not the eye. Reporters and editors in radio write to engage the listeners. When done well, the listener should be complicit in the act of imagination -- seeing events in his or her mind as described by the reporter or the host and burnished by the appropriate use of sound to create that auditory landscape.

That's the theory.

In practice, odd turns of phrase, adjectival pile-ups and general clunkiness and clangers simply get in the way of the listeners who tend to tune out when the writing sounds labored or clichéd.