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CARROLL: Clichés turn up too often in the news world
David Carroll
David Carroll is a news anchor for WRCB in Chattanooga, Tenn.

As a TV news anchor, I try to avoid clichés, because they turn up on the news too often.

I grimace when I hear that “officials are tight-lipped.” In fact, I usually tighten my own lips, to no avail.

Sometimes, we tell you that someone in the news is “finally speaking out!” I suppose they are tired of whispering. In fact, they may be “breaking their silence.” That one makes me laugh, because my wife accuses me of doing that shortly after I wake up each morning. (Think about it.)

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve ended a crime story by saying, “The investigation is continuing,” I’d have some serious cash. I mean, that should be obvious. We all know that cops aren’t going to leave the scene and say, “You know what? I’m stumped. Let’s just forget about it, and maybe this will blow over.”

“Police talk” in general can be entertaining. Occasionally I’ll hear an officer say, “We’re looking for the gentleman who held up the XYZ Bank.” Sir, if he’s robbing banks, he’s no gentleman.

When the police are in pursuit, we are often told that they stopped the car, but the man got out and “fled on foot.” This reassures me that he did not flap his wings and fly away.

Of course, those of us who are paid to read words correctly are frequently the culprits. We offer safety tips about your “hot water heater.” Now seriously, why would anyone need to heat their hot water?

You’ve often heard us describe “an ATM machine robbery.” That means we’re talking about an Automated Teller Machine machine.

If we say, “canine dogs,” should we also say, “human people?”

A reporter will stand on a street corner, and proclaim, “As you can see, I’m on the ground here in East Tumbleweed.” Thanks for proving me right. I am comforted to know that my eyes are not deceiving me.

(These reporters are not to be confused with the ones who warn you to stay away from the dangerous tornado zone in which they are standing, shortly before their hat flies into the ocean, and the wind pulls their mouth around to the back of their head.)

This reminds me of the word, “reeling.” As in, “Gas went up a nickel, sending motorists reeling.” Since “reeling” is defined as, “losing one’s balance and staggering or lurching violently,” I fear what will happen when it goes up another dime.

My TV news friends have also said, “Take a look at this new ride: It is definitely not your father’s Buick!” I can vouch for that, because he never owned one.

We love to say, “Tonight there are more questions than answers.” Unless, of course, you’re watching “Jeopardy.”

We’ve told you about people who were in a “terrible accident,” as opposed to a wonderful accident. We describe a “senseless crime” so you’ll know it wasn’t a meaningful crime. We tell you that an injured person was taken to a “local” hospital. Aren’t you glad the paramedics didn’t take him to a hospital thousands of miles away?

Sometimes we use a lot of words when just two will do. Doesn’t “totally engulfed in flames” mean the same thing as “on fire?”

The weather people also slip up. From the Department of Redundancy Department, they’ll say, “Currently right now in Marietta, it’s 71.”

I try to avoid “literally.” As in, “Police are — literally — combing this neighborhood for clues.” That must be one huge comb.

Remember when “Breaking News” was truly something important? For instance, a major earthquake, or an explosion. Now, the cable “news” channels, yapping for attention like puppies at feeding time, will trumpet their “Breaking News” banner to inform us that “Swimming Pools and Diarrhea Don’t Mix.” Who knew?

So here’s the very latest. Something in your home may be killing you. And there are only two places you can find the cure. We have information that can save your family, so watch Monday night at 11, when we will tell you to look inside our app.

At the end of the day, here’s the bottom line: it remains to be seen. Because only time will tell.

David Carroll is a Chattanooga news anchor, and his new book “Hello Chattanooga: Famous People Who Have Visited the Tennessee Valley” is available on his website,  You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405, or at