Everyone excited

Have you noticed how everyone is excited about just about everything these days? It can range from a company’s hiring a new finance chief after the last one got caught sharing the profits, or a publisher naming a new third assistant obit editor, the mayor cutting the ribbon of a developer donor’s latest subsidized building, or a Hollywood star getting engaged for the fifth time this year. They are all… Read Article →

Beware of a tout

Our definition of tout begins: “A favorite verb when a group or promoter is pushing something that an editor doesn’t 100 percent respect.” We quote Mike Feinsilber of the Associated Press: “It is a nice short lead word…but to some (read that: me) it has a tawdry, racetrack, carnivalish tone….” What brings this up is a recent Boston Globe story headlined: “City touts affordable housing bump.” The story is about… Read Article →


Have you ever heard anyone ask, “Which eatery did you dine at?” Or: “What’s the best eatery in the neighborhood?” I’ll bet you never heard anyone say the word eatery. Which makes it classic journalese. It’s often used according to the Bent Yellow Fruit Law, which prohibits an important word from being used twice in the same sentence. (“The banana boat longshoremen loaded the cargo of bent yellow fruit.”) A… Read Article →

Relatively moderate.

Journalese of the Day: A Law of Journalese requires political leaders to be labelled according to the opinion of the reporter and editor. A striking example was in a Washington Post story, July 17, 2017, about Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s brother’s being arrested for “unspecified financial crimes.” The story reported: “Sunday’s developments came less than two months after the relatively moderate Rouhani beat a hard-line opponent to win reelection, running… Read Article →

Miss a story? Never!

A basic Law of Journalism — not journalese — is to never admit you totally screwed up. Getting a fact wrong, well, that’s not too bad. But missing a great story, that never happens. Especially when you can blame someone else. The Boston Globe ran a story the other day of how some high school students discovered the Boston Garden developer never fulfilled a 1993 agreement with the city to… Read Article →

Team of hacks, stooges, bums, or what?

A Law of Journalese, adopted from the corporate world of BS, requires that any group be called a team when it’s run by politicians, business executives, community activists or anyone else not in jail. There’s a team even if the guy heading the team is a bum, scoundrel, liar, phony or a total jerk, and the team is made up of stooges just like the boss. An example is that… Read Article →

Size Comparison Law broken.

There’s a basic Law of Journalese that requires all large areas of wildfires, floods, or other catastrophes to be compared to the area of the state of Rhode Island. This law was flagrantly broken on July 13, 2017, in a story about the world’s largest iceberg created when a chunk of the Antarctica broke loose. Boston’s WBZ radio news, and most likely other media, reported the iceberg as “larger than… Read Article →

Dangle this!

There is no requirement that American reporters and editors pass a 9th grade English composition test. I was reminded of this when I read the following in a July 9, 2017, Boston Globe story about a man arrested for a road rage assault: “Travis Elsaadi was charged with assault by means of a dangerous weapon for allegedly striking a man driving a scooter with a metal baseball bat.” Back in… Read Article →


“Misidentified” is the editorially correct word to use when a journalist has totally screwed up. In published corrections, it is best used without mentioning what the original goof was. An example was in the “For the record” notes of The Boston Globe, July 7, 2017: “Correction: Because of an editing error, a photo caption in Thursday’s obituary pages misidentified Simone Veil. Mrs. Veil was one of France’s most revered politicians…. Read Article →

Reporters as speculators.

Speculation in news stories is nothing new. Reporters and editors justify it by providing the source of the speculation, usually anonymous “observers,” “specialists,” “experts,” or “reliable sources.” Most likely, if there are such sources, he or she is a fixture at a saloon near city hall. A front page, top story in The Boston Globe, July 5, 2017, about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, provides an example of speculation purely by… Read Article →