Those annoying things local TV news reporters say - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Those annoying things local TV news reporters say

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Phone in your hand, computer on the table, tablet in your lap, if you were watching this story on TV (and not reading it on/playing it from our website), would you really be paying attention? Cronkite and Murrow never had to compete for attention with Candy Crush or Netflix. But I do, so I'm going to try introducing this story like this:

In an exclusive, live, developing, breaking report, you, us, we, neighbors, folks, residents -- who am I even talking about? -- caught on camera speaking out against the horrible crimes against our language committed every day right here (again, only if you watched this story on a television) in your local TV newscast.

"Another dramatic car chase," linguist Ben Zimmer said. "Do all car chases have to be dramatic? They do in the rhetoric of local news."

Zimmer, the executive producer of vocabulary.com, can find "tragic," "tragedy," "horrible" or "heart-breaking" abused at least once in any nightly news show. Hearts on his TV now seem to go out to a lot of different things.

"A dangerous chase," Zimmer said, "a dramatic car crash, a terrifying ordeal."

Unkept promises to "stay on this" or "bring you more details as they emerge" maybe convince you to tune in again later?

"I'm just a random guy on the street and I'm being interviewed because I somehow legitimize this story," a random guy on the street whom we never bothered to ask his name said.

Very few use "irony," "ironic" or "ironically" correctly -- Alanis Morissette included. H2O played no role in the Watergate scandal but many add "gate" to the end of nouns relating to events they deem scandalous anyway. No red carpet has ever been televised on which the stars weren't shining brightly that night.

"That's right, [insert anchor name here]," a reporter on a live-shot might say, "you did just deal me a crushing blow by summarizing in your introduction everything I had to say, leaving me to pick up the pieces of a story we first brought to you at some point in the past. That's how it's going out here."

"It's just the news again, making something out of nothing," Zimmer said, mimicking the viewer's desensitization to the sensationalist language used in TV news.

Snow, for example, never flies. It falls. And no human not inside a television actually calls it "the white stuff."

A whole story about all the phrases you never want to hear a TV reporter or anchor say, in place of a piece that might actually add to your understanding of the world around you, seems the most tragic of all. So, again, a theory: Maybe we sex up our language on TV, only speak in the present tense and changing every verb to a gerund, because we're terrified you're just not paying attention anymore.

"It's important to grab the viewer's attention," Zimmer said, "and tell them: This is important news that's happening right now and you have to pay attention."

We are aware we often sound ridiculous, and we're at least a little sorry. We just want to capture and then keep your attention in a media world where you have so many choices. We'll try to do so more intelligently?

We now return you to your regularly scheduled scrolling through your Instagram feed. Kicking off the hottest new trend, you won't believe what happens next, stay with us, back to you, I'm Mac King, Fox 5 News.

Click here for "Those annoying things local TV news does"

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