The New York Times has noticed a peculiar and admittedly annoying trend of word choice in its own pieces — the overuse of the words "centric" and "vibe." How widespread is the use of these words around the media?
The Grey Lady's own After Deadline blog noted the rapid increase in the "-centric" modifier, from just 72 times total back in 2000 up to 150 uses already this year. And the word has been added to almost every noun, ranging from the simple "New York-centric" to the awkward "iOS-6-centric." So, too, has The Times described things as having a certain "vibe" with increasingly regularity (graph at right), presumably in their Style section most often.
"It may have been fresh and engaging once; not anymore," Philip Corbett of The Times writes. "Let’s try to be more judicious and look for alternatives." To do so, though, Corbett will have to do more than admonish his own paper, as the use of "vibe" and "centric" aren't just limited to the Times. And The Washington Post, in fact, is the worst offender, as we found in our survey of leading media outlets, in graph form below.
The New York Times
"Centric" uses last month: 21
"Vibe" uses last month: 26
Verdict: The New York Times not only uses these words plenty, it does so in some strange scenarios. And most of these could easily be replaced with other descriptors that read more smoothly. We stand with Corbett — let's take an alternative-focused approach.
The Wall Street Journal
"Centric" uses last month: 10
"Vibe" uses last month: 4
Verdict: The business-centric Wall Street Journal doesn't feel very strongly about the vibe of these words. They're a minimal offender.
The Washington Post
"Centric" uses last month: 39
Best uses of centric: A new restaurant is "beer-centric." (So, it's a bar?) A restaurant owned by Chipotle is "noodle-centric." D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare program hosted a "Bikeshare-centric" trivia event.
"Vibe" uses last month: 69
Best uses of vibe: Shakepeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream had a "trippy Woodstock vibe." The National Symphony Orchestra gala gave off a "fin de siècle vibe." A Paris fashion show had a "vibe of fictional girls’ boarding school St Trinian’s."
Verdict: As far-and-away the top user of "vibe," it's fair to call the Post a vibe-centric work environment. These numbers do include both Post and Associated Press stories
The Atlantic Wire
"Centric" uses last month: 7
"Vibe" uses last month: 2
Verdict: We at The Atlantic Wire have a definite anti-"vibe" feeling and atmosphere, and there's no rapid increase in the use of these words at all.