Get off the ground

I don’t know how long journalists have been using the phrase “on the ground,” but it seems to be more commonly used than ever before. I don’t see how it adds anything to a story. In the following examples if you removed “on the ground” the meaning would not change at all.

“… Marines saw and felt on the ground — their views on the failures and triumphs of their push toward Baghdad.” — All Things Considered , March 19, 2004 [I suppose the phrase is used here so we know the author is not describing what the Marines saw and felt at home or the office, but is that really necessary?]

“And Nadya Sbaiti says, ‘… manipulation of the facts on the ground in Israel and the Occupied Territories.’ ” –Jeffrey A. Dvorkin, Ombudsman, NPR. [I guess “on the ground” is used so we know the author is not referring to the manipulation of the facts by the media]

“West African peacekeepers who are on the ground will take off their berets and will put on the blue hats” CNN [Where else can peacekeepers be found but on the ground? Are there peacekeepers in offices?]

Edit: The article by the NPR ombudsman was removed from NPR.org.

One Reply to “Get off the ground”

  1. “on the ground” makes it sound authentic, immediate, as if they are talking about a real place. If they’re telling the truth, they wouldn’t need such an emphasis.

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