CINCINNATI (TDB) -- "Bare naked" is as rough as it gets. There's not a dirty word on Randy Michaels' list. It's a pedestrian lot -- including "pedestrian," which the CEO considers unsuitable for public airwaves. The former Cincinnati broadcast executive -- he made 700 WLW-AM and Clear Channel into powerhouses -- has ordered 119 phrases and words never to be spoken on WGN radio, Tribune's flagship in Chicago. News of the Michaels ban, along with the entire list of offenders, comes from Robert Feder at Vocalo.org. Feder sees WGN staffers as pawns in the hands of an over-bearing boss: "What's even more disturbing is that the CEO of a major institution would engage in such petty and insulting micromanaging of subordinates."
A memo from a station exec went out with the list. It says the point is to avoid "newsspeak," a word that's not on the list. Newsspeak means talking like an insider, or using jargon and language that isn't heard or used in everyday plain English. But the ban includes "alleged," a word that means to declare something took place without proof it actually happened. Alleged is a staple of crime beat reporting. Also sent packing: "undocumented alien," a phrase that indicates someone is, or is alleged (sorry Randy) to be in the U.S. without proper immigration paperwork. It is considered more precise -- and thus more accurate -- than the phrase illegal alien. Here's a sample of other things you shouldn't say in Chicago: Aftermath, auto accident, authorities, death toll, diva, folks, gunman, guys, incarcerated, legendary, manhunt, motorist, officials, pedestrian, perished, really, reportedly.
So the worst paragraph one could write might go as such: In the aftermath of an auto accident, the death toll included legendary diva Marie M. Marie who reportedly was a pedestrian when struck by a motorist who also perished, police officials said. Folks who saw the carnage said a team of state and federal authorities -- including the FBI -- were conducting a manhunt for a bandit who held up a nearby bank. Police confirmed the lone gunman recently had been incarcerated but escaped. Witnesses alleged the crash was caused by the chase. "Guys, if you catch him, you really need to lock him up," one of the onlookers told police at the scene.