The demographic for people who still get their news from mainstream broadcast media …is ‘mature’. This demographic often was taught how to spell. It knows idioms and idiomatic expressions such as: in one fell swoop – not one fowl swoop or one foul swoop or one fail swoop.


Shakespeare created many expressions (such as one fell swoop) we commonly use today. While correct use of idioms is not the be-all and end-all (another Shakespeare creation) I argue you should try to get your idioms right.

This post was inspired by catching and subbing strap line that almost made it air: no holes barred. The correct expression of course is no holds barred – as in wrestling holds, I believe.

Perhaps, the talented writer just made a typo in the deadline rush – but my point is: as well as checking for spelling when writing or subbing, you also need to make sure you are using the correct words in an expression.

That’s why it pays to have as as many eyes as possible read over scripts.

I always remember a boss who corrected me. I wrote towing the line (which I thought was correct)…when the correct expression is toeing the line. If you are reading a script out loud, the words sound the same so it matters less – but if you are writing a strap or words on a graphic – using the correct word DOES matter.


So if you are uncertain about an expression:

  1. Ask! especially ask the ‘more mature’ members of a newsroom.
  2. Do a quick check. there are plenty of one-line idiom dictionaries etc
  3. Create a newsroom culture where you list (without blame) expressions that are commonly used incorrectly and share this list

I know newsrooms are busy places. Will they take care to get idioms correct. Will correctness catch on?  I wait with baited breath



One thought on “#Writing broadcast news: get your idioms right – in one fowl swoop

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s