Speaking Out – For the Very First Time

Are you Speaking Out for the Very First Time?

Are you Speaking Out for the Very First Time?

If you watch television news, you probably hear this phrase at least once or twice a week. It’s used frequently by news anchors or television hosts in the introduction to an interview. It’s another annoying media trend I wish would stop and here’s why.

Several weeks ago it was used on NBC’s Today Show to introduce a new voice, or thread, in a national news story. The way in which anchors do this implies that we have been waiting to hear from Person X for a very long time, so that what they have to say is very, very important. In this case, it was just one more person or angle in an overly examined topic and no new information was conveyed.

Last week, my local news used the same phrase. The problem is that the “victim” was speaking out about a crime that happened the day before, so the phrase “speaking out for the very first time” portrayed the victim as if they had long been a hold-out, loathe to tell their story in the public spotlight. But it’s really just a way to grab your attention back to yesterday’s story.

I am no grammarian but the way this phrase is used over and over in television bothers me. Have we really been waiting to hear these people? Or are the news media trying to extend the value of a story that has little value by making us believe we have been waiting for this particular point of view?

How many times have you turned to the news media to add a long-awaited point of view to a news mystery? I can think of only one in my entire lifetime.

Deep Throat. The Watergate scandal informant who helped Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein unravel the trails which led to the undoing of the Nixon administration in the 1970s. Deep Throat was featured in the book, All the President’s Men, followed by the movie of the same name a year later. Deep Throat’s identity was a long-held secret and we really did want to hear who he was and what he would say if he was “speaking out for the very first time.”

He finally did – in 2005, thirty years later. You can read about it here, on the Washington Post website.

That’s what I call “speaking out for the very first time.”

What media catchphrase bothers you?

  • Catchphrases that I’m really tired of:
    “This is a thing?!” or “Is that a thing?”
    “This.”
    Anytime a phrase is emphasized by typing just one word and then a period. So. Annoying.

    (These annoying phrases tend to come up more in personal use than by the media.)

    • Fran Stephenson

      Yes! Just kidding. It’s just another indication of how our social media constraints are turning into shorthand phrases in speech.