It’s the start of a new term in journalism courses across the country, and journalism lecturers will once again be spending the first few weeks helping students to ‘unlearn’ a habit they acquire at school: the impulse to use multiple synonyms instead of the word “said”*.
It’s not their fault. At school pupils are encouraged to extend their vocabulary when writing. Using “said” repetitively is seen as limited or uncreative, and pupils are told to find other words to add variety. “Stated”, “uttered”, and “commented” are just three words that journalism tutors will be striking out in the coming weeks.
But these synonyms are rarely used in journalism. To find out just how rarely they are used — and what the exceptions are — I looked at a sample of the 10 most recent news stories from three outlets: the BBC, Daily Mail/MailOnline, and BuzzFeed (30 in total).
The media’s reaction to David Bowie‘s death from cancer early this morning demonstrates just how widely curation has become in journalism practice – and specifically, how it has become the web native version of the obituary. Below I’ve done a bit of curation of my own: 8 13 16 ways that different publications used curation to mark the death of a legend. If you have seen others, please let me know.