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11/20/2014 08:59 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

These Clichés Are The Reason All News Articles Look The Same

Earlier this year, The Washington Post ran a list of phrases that journalists and other writers overuse, quipping, "This isn't your father's list of clichés." "At first glance" and "upon deeper reflection" sat atop a lengthy rant against certain common phrases that are admittedly irksome. But as Orin Hargaves, author of It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Clichés, points out, some hackneyed phrases are defensible, because they illustrate an idea better than any other metaphor could.

While some journalistic phrases are difficult to circumvent -- "the American people" and "critics say" are useful segues between thoughts -- others are shamefully avoidable, and therefore a result of lazy writing. The BBC is guilty of overusing "outside the box," and The New York Times can't stop writing, "Mr. [so-and-so] goes to Washington" or "It is what it is."

Data journalist David McCandless tracked and charted which clichés certain popular outlets are more likely to use. Check out his infographic, which ran first in his new book Knowledge Is Beautiful, below:

knowledge is beautiful

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