Memories of Smilin’ Jack.

If you’re older than your millennial kids, you may remember Smilin’ Jack, the comic strip about a hot-shot aviator of the same name. Aviator: it brings up memories of guys wearing leather helmets, goggles, at the stick in an open cockpit of a bi-plane, in dog-fights with enemies like the Red Baron. (Check out “Smilin’ Jack” on Google and you’ll see a classic aviator in action.) What brings this up… Read Article →

Which story to believe?

You read Bloomberg BusinessWeek of Jan. 22, 2018, and find this story: “Out from Under the ‘Bamboo Ceiling,’ ” with the sub-head: “Silicon Valley is losing talented Chinese engineers to, well, China.” And in the story: “While many recent Chinese college graduates still covet American citizenship and a prestigious Valley name on their resumes, many are quickly tiring of what they call a ‘bamboo ceiling,’ a relative lack of opportunities… Read Article →

Rusty laser focus out of focus

“Laser focus” is journalese for a quality of a politician or business big-shot admired by the reporter. This was applied to Mitt Romney in a Boston Globe story Feb. 17, 2018 about his announcement he’s running as a Republican for the Utah Senate seat being vacated by Republican Orin Hatch: “His laser focus on Utah in a two-minute video announcement revealed how eager the 70-year-old Romney is to tout his… Read Article →

Everyone is a curator.

Ever notice how everyone who puts something together in a list or show or event is now a curator? Curate, as a verb, is not even listed in my edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the American Language. OK, it’s not the latest edition. Merriam-Webster defines the transitive verb curate: “to act as curator of; curate a museum: an exhibit curated by the museum’s director.” Yeah, that’s the dictionary…. Read Article →

Disovering the obscure

Our journalese dictionary definition of “obscure” is: “Anything not known to the reporter before working on the story.” It’s a favorite explanation for missing an important detail or an entire story. An example was in a New York Times story Feb. 10, 2018, headlined in the Boston Globe: “Trump won’t declassify Democratic memo.” The story explains, “Under the obscure rule invoked by the House Intelligence Committee to initiate the document’s… Read Article →

Relax, Bambi, it’s only a managed harvest.

When advertisers, lobbyists, promoters, politicians, flacks and hacks use a euphemism long enough it usually gets adopted by the media. Our dictionary definition of “gaming” is defined as: “Euphemism for gambling. Used by papers supporting a casino. A specific lottery is always a ‘game.’ The effect is to make high-takes gambling sound like Scrabble or Monopoly.” And sure enough, Massachusetts passed a casino-enabling law overseen by an official “Gaming Commission.”… Read Article →

A proper use of tout

At last! A proper use of a journalese favorite verb, tout. The Boston Globe page one, top story, Jan. 31, 2018, has this sub-head: “In state of the union, Trump touts accomplishments, economic progress.” That’s right on. It’s the original use of tout, as Mike Feinsilber of the Associated Press writes in our journalese dictionary: “It is a nice, short lead word. But to some (read that: me) it has… Read Article →

Luxury of having no copy editors.

When reporters adopt the gushing language of developers, promoters, flacks, politicians and others they are covering, well, maybe it’s time to start hollering. What brings this up is a lede sentence in a Boston Globe business story, Jan. 26, 2018, about the settlement of a conflict over a condo tower planned for Boston’s Seaport district. The lede: “A luxury condominium tower on Seaport Boulevard will break ground this spring….” Now… Read Article →

A classic tout.

In our journalese dictionary definition of headline favorite “tout,” we write: “Don’t wait for one like this: ‘Pope touts peace in Yule rap’.” That was because tout has a sleazy origin: A tout is a guy who whispers tips on horse races, intending to make a buck if his supposed inside info on a sure nag happens to win a race. Well, the Boston Globe, Jan. 24, 2018, came close… Read Article →

Disconnect this.

Have you ever heard anyone use the word “disconnect” in any meaning other than something is not connected? Such as, “My computer got disconnected to the Internet.” Or, “No wonder the printer isn’t working. Some idiot disconnected it from the wall jack.” But now the word has become a favorite of reporters to mean that something doesn’t add up: facts are missing, a politician is called a liar, the President… Read Article →