Monday, June 18, 2012

This Month's Irritating New Journalistic Tic

All of a sudden, everyone is using "the food chain" to dress up plain sentences.  Here's an example from a recent issue of The New York Times article about China: "The secrecy, Ms. Sapio said, is intended to shield the public from details that might harm the party’s image and to limit any collateral damage to those higher up the food chain." Does this add anything to just saying "to those higher up"? It gives it a certain patina of cynicism--it's a fish-eat-fish world out there--but since the higher-ups are not in fact eating their subordinates, even figuratively, it doesn't actually mean anything.

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