At The End of The Day, It’s All About Clichés

We journalists are a boring, predictable lot. Whether we’re in the UK, US or Australia we all use the same clichés. Well, cliché, actually: ‘at the end of the day’. Knowing I was a sucker for monitoring the Internet cliché Factiva (co-owned by Dow Jones, who owns WSJ, the paper I write for) sent me their findings, based on their text mining technology, on clichés in the media for the first six months of this year. Their findings: “at the end of the day” (uttered both by writers and presumably the people they quote) dominates all English-speaking zones.


The phrase was used more than 10,500 times in the U.S. media, more than double the next most used cliche (“in the black”). In Australia it was used 2,183 times, more than three times the next cliche (“in the red”, intriguingly, at 679 times) while the New Zealand media used it proportionally more than either of them, 639 times against 147 times for “in the red”. (Clearly Aussie and Kiwi companies not doing so well this half.)

UK media was in love with “at the end of the day” too, at 3,347 times, but that less than double “in the red” (1,877 times) and only around double “in the black” (1,628 times).

Here are the clichés monitored:

a laugh a minute
a question mark hangs over
about face
all in due time
all the way to the bank
at the end of the day
bated breath
bend over backwards
better late than never
blazing inferno
brutal reminder
burn the midnight oil
business at hand
call it a day
carnival atmosphere
chew the fat
clean bill of health concerned residents
dead cat bounce
dog eat dog
eat your own dog food
firing on all cylinders
fly by night
freak accident
full-scale search
gang busters
horror smash
hot pursuit
in the black
in the nick of time
in the red
last-ditch effort
leave no stone unturned
left at the altar
level playing field low hanging fruit
nose to the grindstone
outpouring of support
rushed to the scene
shrouded in mystery
split second
survival of the fittest
tense standoff
the eleventh hour
think outside the box
time after time
time and again
time heals all wounds
time is money
time is running out
unsung heroes
up the ante
wealth of experience
wipe the slate clean

Seems like a pretty good list to avoid. You’ve been warned!

The U.S.’ Next Big Thing: SMS-TV

No question that the U.S. is ahead on lots of cool stuff, but it has yet to be subjected to the world of SMS-TV. SMS-TV is when TV programmes let viewers vote, or submit competition entries, by text message, usually via a premium number. I have to admit I’ve never done this, but a lot of TV programs have it now, both in Asia and Europe, and it’s clearly a big revenue earner.

Says Idan Miller, SVP at zone4play, an SMS-TV supplier: “While SMS-TV isn’t yet a household product in the U.S., throughout Europe it is huge, and the U.S. is next. For [reality show] ‘Big Brother’ in the U.K., they charged $.25 per SMS and got about 100 million SMS messages throughout the season. For many mobile carriers in the U.S., it can be a major growth area in income.” Earning $25 million for audience interaction? Not bad.

It’s not just about money. “Big TV networks can also benefit as they crave ways to get their viewers to talk back and stay engaged with content brands. The loyalty engendered may be even more valuable to a TV industry that is suffering declining network viewership and fragmented attention spans,” says Miller.