“Walter Cronkite, the iconic anchorman…”
“Michael Jackson, the icon of pop stars…”
“Ed McMahon, the iconic second banana…”
These and other recent deaths have forced me to suspend the use of “icon” and “iconic” from my newswriting. I was going to go on at length about icon abuse, but Joe Queenan beat me to the punch in the Wall Street Journal. If you don’t have time to read his article (and I hope the network anchors did), at least check out the definition of icon.
It’s a very solid word. It sounds good. It makes the writer feel smart.
But icon now joins “shocking” on the long list of words most abused by newswriters. I will say shocking if I find something to be truly shocking, but that really doesn’t happen too often, much to the consternation of our producers and promo people.
And don’t get me started on all the traditional nicknames for Connecticut’s cities and towns. (Elm City, Hat City, Thread City, etc…and throw in “Big Apple” for good measure.) Most of them don’t even apply anymore.
I’m such a joy to work with. Really.