From: Bud Veazey
To: Reporters, producers, anchors, promotions
Re: “the very latest,” et al
A good writing teacher will tell you, “Never use two words when one word will do.” TV reporters and writers turn that rule on its head. Take “very latest” for instance. How many times have you heard an anchor tell you he or she will have the “very latest” on a story after the commercial break or that reporter John Doe has the “very latest” from the scene?
Shouldn’t “latest” be enough? What’s the difference between “very latest” and “latest?” Am I getting my money’s worth when I’m getting only the “latest” information?
I recently heard a reporter refer to a “brazen and bold” robber. Why not just “brazen?” Why not just “bold?” Aren’t the two words synonyms?
Get yourself a six-pack and take a sip every time you hear an unnecessary or redundant adjective in a TV newscast. You’ll be knee-walking drunk by 7 p.m. (Okay, I exaggerate. I once wrote TV news and habits of hyperbole are hard to break.)
After decades of reading and correcting TV news copy, I came to the conclusion that it must be a rhythm thing, sort of like the iambic pentameter of reporter tracking. Perhaps reporters and writers throw in superfluous adjectives and adverbs for the same reason producers insist on three teases on a break—it just feels right. That’s the reason you’ll see a tease for a 15-second video of a car wreck in Seattle. The story is hardly worthy of advance promotion, but a producer needed a third tease to maintain the rhythm.
Don’t get me started on “young child,” “very unique,” or “completely destroyed.”
Until his retirement in 2007, Bud Veazey was assistant news director at WAGA, where he wrote memos like this regularly (minus the “take a sip” challenge, unfortunately…). Veazey now creates and restores guitars. Visit his ebay page here.