I post journalism pet peeves a couple times a week on twitter and they have begun to get funny comments and feedback, so I'm going to explain the pet peeves on here.
Today's: The extreme use of the word 'that' by writers. It is usually never needed!! Clean up the copy and cut 'that' out.
I've had writers who manage to squish the word 'that' in nearly every sentence. As a journalist you should be concerned about each and every word you type. Ask yourself: Is this word necessary? Does it further the story? Am I just trying to fill to reach a certain word count?
Copy should never read like this: The company, that filed bankruptcy today, said that it would move forward with discussion with the courts within the week. Experts expect that process will take up to four months, and that by June the company will be completely restructured. That said, company officials believe that it will still be able to move forward with the development of the new restaurant that it is building in Oz. UGH UGH UGH!! (I totally made this us - but it's not uncommon.)
By cutting out nearly every use of the word 'that' the paragraph reads smoothly and gets to the point quickly and effectively.
It should read more like this: The company, which filed bankruptcy today, said it would move forward with discussion with the courts within the week. Experts expect the process will take up to four months, and by June the company will be completely restructured. Company officials believe it will still be able to move forward with the development of the new restaurant it is building in Oz.
Past J Pet Peeves:
J Pet Peeve: PR firms sending releases on something that is unrelated to the topic I cover. Ex: Real estate doesn't care about foot fungus.
J Pet peeve: Pitches, press releases sent my way with my first or last name spelled wrong. It's all over the site.. not hard to get it right.
J Pet Peeve: Journalists should not waste a question in a press conference when the answer that can be found on a list the co released!
J Pet Peeve: Except in very rare cases, a comma should NEVER appear before the word 'and.' They serve the same purpose!