Journalists continue to use the word which continually continues to do my head in


This blog post doesn’t start with me pretending to be a style guru when it comes to writing news copy. I’ve been a journo for ten years and I’m sure I have many faults in my style and technique.

One thing I learned many years ago was not to abuse the word ‘continue’ in news writing. And be warned, once you’ve read this post, you’ll never hear the word continue the same way again.

Many young journalists love the word continue because they incorrectly believe it makes something sound more urgent, current or new. The word continue actually doesn’t achieve any of these goals– in my opinion it makes news copy much weaker.

Surely the very meaning of the word continue means that something that continues is not new, and therefore not news.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

“Earthquakes continue to rock the city” should become “More earthquakes have rocked the city”. At least that’s new.

What about “The company’s debt continues to grow”? If you’re marrying continue with another verb, it’s almost certainly a dud combo. Just ditch continue and write “The company’s debt has grown”.

Sometimes ‘continue’ is a sign of laziness. What about this: “Protests continue in Libya tonight”. The continuation of protests isn’t news. Until the regime falls or protests are quashed, tell me where the protests are happening, who’s leading them, and how many people have joined the rallies.

It’s just a small point.¬†And I’ll ‘continue’ to shout about it until someone listens.