Wednesday January 16th 2019
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The 119 Words You Can’t Say on Radio

This would make for one long Carlin bit.

In a bizarre, Soviet-esque company edict, Tribune Co. CEO Randy Michaels banned WGN anchors and reporters from using 119 words and phrases on the company’s flagship radio station. Michaels cited a desire to eliminate “newsspeak” from his airwaves. Among the words and phrases on the no-fly list are “flee,” “area residents” and “close proximity.”

In theory, the concept isn’t a terrible one. Newsspeak, like its relatives journalese and policespeak, is often littered with needless qualifiers and redundant phrases like “close proximity.” Eliminating jargon and embracing a more conversational tone helps bring the most intimate medium even closer.

What’s worrisome and rather appalling is Michaels’ speak-and-spy policing policy. He’s ordered employees to keep tabs on those who utter the now-banished phrases. They are to note the exact time and utterance, and can do so on one of the banned word bingo cards Michaels provided to workers.

To see a full list of banned words, check out Robert Feder’s blog.

To see each of those words and phrases used in one long, awesome sentence, visit the blog for NPR’s best show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.”

Image: alexkerhead



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