Repeat prescription

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‘I mustn’t use the same word twice in a sentence writing this story!’

A fundamental rule of journalism is almost never to repeat key words or phrases, although there are exceptions, and this is underlined by the recollection from our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry who has been a journalist for 40 years, that the word ‘Eye’ has played a central role in his life.

Earlier he described how he was assisted in breaking into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the current coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is playing havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting.


Journalists are trained to try to avoid using repeated words or phrases…

It was always drummed into me that a journalist should always try to find an alternative word or phrase, so that there are no repetitions in a sentence.

This is why, now, putting ‘synonym’ into Google is so useful.

For example: ‘appointed’ can become ‘named as’, ‘another’ will be ‘a further’, even ‘and’ transforms into ‘as well as’, at second mention!

Working here would not happen today for Phil, because it has shut

There are, however, exceptions – and I have just been reminded of one.

The word ‘Eye’ has been repeated loads of times in my life.

At university I helped set up a newspaper called ‘Student Eye’, in London I worked as a reporter on a network BBC Television programme entitled ‘Public Eye’, and, of course, I now edit the investigative website, The Eye.

Repeats are bad news…

At least, though, they are unlikely to be in the same sentence!

So I can still kind of stick to that golden rule of journalism – never to say the same thing twice in one…


The memories of Phil’s astonishing decades-long award-winning career in journalism (when he tried hard NEVER to say the same thing twice) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!


Regrettably publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.