OLD Media Moves

Cliche watch, business edition

October 22, 2008

Philip Corbett, the deputy news editor at the New York Times who is also in charge of the paper’s style manual, takes a look at the cliches that have crept into the paper’s business coverage.

Corbett writes, “In one stretch of business coverage last month, we used the phrase ‘double down’ three times in four days. But it’s not just in business stories — this blackjack allusion seems to be enjoying a sudden vogue throughout the paper. It also appeared recently in an Arts column about cable news anchors and a Foreign story about Iraq strategy.

“And what do you know? In one recent reference, we actually used it to mean doubling a bet at the blackjack table. That was in a story about casino dealers.”

Later, Corbett adds, “Since the financial crisis erupted, all of America seems to have been divided into two streets: Wall Street and Main Street. Politicians have used the contrast incessantly (no prizes for guessing which street’s residents they stand with). Pundits and columnists have also latched onto the facile dichotomy, and the wire services have done their share.

“For the most part, we’ve avoided the paired reference outside of quotes. But it’s so obvious that even an occasional use in our own voice seems clichéd.”

Read more here.

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