Progressives face a sticky wicket.

Who’s a progressive? And what’s a sticky wicket? Ask 100 Americans those questions, and you’ll get 100 different answers for progressive and 99 “What the hell’s a sticky wicket?” for the sticky wicket. (One person you asked spent time in England. He knew.) OK, I didn’t run a test. But I doubt if there is any agreement on  who exactly qualifies to be called a progressive. Nobody wants to be… Read Article →

Political zeitgeist?

Our definition of zeitgeist starts: “Reporter shows off his German when he means the spirit of the time.”  Our example was a Seattle story in 2010 that reported that the sockeye salmon would be a top candidate to illustrate “our have-it-all, eco-wannabe zeitgeist.”  An updated, more human example was in a Boston Globe story, Sept. 28, 2017, about Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker, a Republican in the bluest of blue… Read Article →

Biotech Devil’s Dictionary

The Boston Globe, in its Business section Sept 25, 2017, has a great feature headlined, “The Biotech Devil’s Dictionary: Your guide to the inanities of industry  jargon.”  Written by Damian Garde of  STAT, the reporting service on health, medicine and science, produced by Boston Globe Media, the dictionary is described as follows: “Biotech can be a breeding ground for jargon, coded language, and outright nonsense, as investors and scientists probe… Read Article →

Teasers ‘R’ Us.

AOL News on Sept. 19, 2017 gets the prize for the week’s best  (worst? most amusing? least enticing?) story teaser.  Here it is:  “Major retailer files for bankruptcy ahead of holidays “The Chapter 11 filing on Monday is among the largest ever by a specialty retailer and casts doubt over the future of its 1,600 stores and 64,000 employees. “Iconic US retail chain in trouble” If you have to… Read Article →

Personality, useful euphemism

The American Heritage Dictionary says the term “personality, for celebrity or notable, is widely used in speech and journalism.” I would add that it can be used when reporters want to avoid telling  the truth about an individual. An example of this was in an AP story, Sept. 13, 2017, about the White House naming Hope Hicks as communications director.  The story explains: “Hicks, 28, is the third White… Read Article →

Oh, that Afghan woman!

The most puzzling headline in quite a while was in The Boston Globe, Sept. 5, 2017. Not for what it said but for what it didn’t say. It read: “Sweden may deport Afghan woman.” Well, there are probably 100,000 Afghan women in Sweden, some with permanent residency, but most without. And deporting one Afghan woman wouldn’t be newsworthy enough to warrant a story and headline in any American paper, not… Read Article →

Large-caliber guns, high-caliber weapons.

Unfortunately, news being what it is, I have often said that all reporters and copy editors — and editorial writers — should have completed at least basic training in the armed forces. That way they would know a bit about weapons and the military. What brings this up is an editorial in The Boston Globe, Sept. 5, 2017, headlined “Trump order will militarize police and sow fear.” I’m not arguing… Read Article →

Muslim ban

Far be for me to defend Donald Trump — he has millions of knuckleheaded gullibles doing that — but how about some accuracy in what has become accepted journalese by the media’s reporting his “Muslim ban.” A quick search for “Muslim ban” in the New York Times got 171 hits, and The Boston Globe 169. The first of the listed Times’s headlines was for an op-ed: “How Trump is Stealthily… Read Article →

Who’s on the grill?

A dictionary definition of the verb grill, other than to broil on a gridiron, is “to question relentlessly, to cross-examine.” In its classic movie application, it’s what cops do to a sweating suspect who is seated in a chair under a single light bulb, with the cops threatening with rubber hoses. In journalese, it’s anyone, usually a politician, being asked questions. Grill is a short, punchy verb, great in a… Read Article →

Operative in the guise of…

Our Journalese Dictionary definition of operative is: “Anyone getting paid to promote someone or something. Political operatives are not identified as shady but often are.” The American Dictionary of the English Language has it: “1. A skilled worker, especially in industry. 2.a. A secret or trusted agent. 2.b. A private detective.” What brings this up is a lede in a Boston Globe story, Aug. 21, 2017, about the latest candidate… Read Article →