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No better than a common scold

Jonathan Krim, senior deputy managing editor of the online editon of The Wall Street Journal, does not find the strictures in my annual holiday cautions particularly helpful, and he has kindly granted me permission to publish his note about the deficiencies of that post. Your views, as always, are welcome.

Mr. Krim writes:

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Forgive me since we don't know each other, but your column brings to mind this question:

Is there anything more clichéd than the annual, threatening scold from the standards editor/writing coach/copy chief on the horrors of holiday clichés?

I agree with the underlying message, and I support the role you and yours play. (We want you on that wall; we *need* you on that wall – Jack Nicholson.)

But honestly, could we perhaps drink a little of this cod-liver oil ourselves and come up with a new way to help journalists find and tell great stories at this time of year? To try to (gasp) actually connect with our readers, who may or may not care how many times we invoke Virginia, but who care deeply about what this time of year means?

Could we point to great, or at least provocative, examples like this one? Could we refer them to Tool 16 in the best book on writing, from the best writing coach (Roy Peter Clark), on *how* to avoid clichés but make them work for you nonetheless?

Could we – in the spirit of the holidays -- give to our increasingly young staffs a more useful present in their newsroom stockings, instead of this lump of NO?

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