119 Words You Can’t Say on TV

A Chicago broadcasting exec recently banned his on-air staff from using more than a hundred words and phrases. Sound like a good idea, Philly TV anchors?

News item: Tribune CEO Randy Michaels last week issued a list of 119 words and phrases forbidden to be said on air by reporters at WGN-AM, the Trib’s news/talk station in Chicago.

Do not adjust your set. This is a true story.

Some of the phrases should be verboten — particularly to TV anchors in our town — because they’re trite, redundant, oxymoronic or just plain stupid. (The phrases, not the anchors, necessarily.) [SIGNUP]

A few examples: “5 a.m. in the morning;” “fatal death;” “complete surprise;” “shots rang out;” “sketchy details;” “at this point in time;” “going forward.”

But what will the anchors say instead? As a public service, here are a few suggestions that might liven up the news — or at least make it more accurate.

Banned phrase: Clash with police
Better phrase: Throwdown with the po po

Banned phrase: Behind bars
Better phrase: In the slammer; in the joint; showering with Vince Fumo

Banned phrase:Bare naked
Better phrase: Bare ass; buck naked; displaying the family jewels

Banned phrase: Definitely possible
Better phrase: Possibly definite

Banned phrase: Diva
Better phrase: Anchor

Banned phrase: No brainer
Better phrase: Anchor

Banned phrase: Lucky to be alive
Better phrase: Anchor

Banned phrase: Lone gunman
Better phrase: Dude with the Uzi

Banned phrase: In other news
Better phrase: For those who are still awake

Banned phrase: Informed sources say
Better phrase: Morons on the Internet say

Banned phrase: Killing spree
Better phrase: He went postal on their asses

Banned phrase: Motorist
Better phrase: The douche in the wrong lane

Banned phrase: Our top story tonight
Better phrase: This is easier than writing a creative opening

Banned phrase: Reportedly
Better phrase: We stole this from The Daily News

Banned phrase: Vehicle
Better phrase: Pimped-out ride

Banned phrase: Straight ahead
Better phrase: Gayly forward

Banned phrase: We’ll be right back
Better phrase: No network would hire us

Gail Shister, TV columnist for the Inquirer for 25 years, teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for tvnewser.com. She writes for The Philly Post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.