Skip to content
Sep 22 / King Kaufman

Unnecessary Journalism Phrases: A funny guide to identifying sludge

Moving forward, you need to avoid unnecessary words if you want to make your writing very unique. Indeed, to be sure, at the end of the day, it’s absolutely necessary.

Unnecessary Journalism Phrases is a Tumblr by freelance writer Josh Sternberg that’s as useful as it is amusing. 

Each post highlights a different phrase in news stories that violates the dictum of making every word count. Examples include “for all intents and purposes” and “at the end of the day.”

Today’s entry, “a person familiar with the matter,” includes a brief explanation of why the phrase is unnecessary. That’s a good innovation I hope Sternberg stays with. Explaining why “moving forward” or “close proximity” or “very unique” are good phrases to excise from your story would add to the Tumblr’s educational value.

But even without explanations the posts are a good daily lesson in making words count, not relying on lazy, mostly meaningless words and phrases that just add fat to your piece.

And if any of Sternberg’s posts don’t get the message across, try this brief item about the Tumblr by Steve Myers at He goes all in on the joke I opened this post with, using all of the phrases Sternberg had highlighted at that point in one paragraph.

And for what it’s worth, that might possibly be the ugliest paragraph in history.

  • Anonymous

    Ha. One of the most important things: trimming excess wording. Why I love Hemingway. Writers should read him.

  • Peter

    That “Unnecessary Journalism Phrases” is cute, but it fails to explain why the use of these phrases is frowned upon nor does it give proper counter examples. The way I see it, it is just a list without meaning.