Conjuring new and interesting ways of relaying information without resorting to the same old clichéd expressions is a key part of the journalist’s skill set. It’s surprising, therefore, to see that at times like this, we can become rather bad at it.
So obsessed are we with getting a splash of color here or a buzzword there that we get a bit carried away. It’s not enough to just relay facts; we have to make things sound engaging. We coin catchy phrases like ‘credit crunch’ or ‘credit squeeze’, feel mightily pleased with ourselves and then go for overkill, peppering our copy with superfluous crunches and squeezes, and anything else we can chuck in for good measure.
Our attachments to these ubiquitous terms are comparable to childhood infatuation with a new toy. Once we have a new term, we just can’t put it down. Google finds no fewer than 59,681 mentions of credit crunch out there; I know I’m not alone when I say I wish I had been responsible for that wonderful and prolific piece of neologism.
The problem with the ubiquity of these terms is that after using them to death, we start to get a bit self-conscious about our laziness: I have found myself spending an inordinate amount of time trying to come up with synonyms for ‘the current unprecedented economic turmoil’.
The recent economic turmoil – there we go again – has spurned several euphemisms: I’ve heard mentions of the undulating and even gyrating financial markets, which when combined sound more like some kind of quasi-acrobatic dance routine than the state of the Fortune 500.
IROs of the world: please don’t make the same mistake, or next year’s annual reports could make for very bizarre reading.
Deputy international editor