Like the Energizer Bunny

Headline of the Day: That’s what you gotta use when a storm passes through and knocks out the power lines. “Somerville officer charged with battery.” — Boston Globe, Oct. 10, 2020

Story that irks a reader

One of the most useful words in headlines is “irk,” a verb meaning to annoy, bother, irritate, bug, tee-off, peeve, irritate, and, well, there’s a long list of synonyms. It’s true journalese. Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m really irked at…”? Or, “That guy really irks me.” Probably never. The word is short and punchy, which makes it most useful in a headline. Like this one, over a New… Read Article →

News and views from the crystal ball.

The New York Times boasts it publishes “All the news that’s fit to print.” Great. Except that the paper’s definition of news includes its own opinions, agenda, guesswork, imagination and speculation. Great example was in a Sept. 3, 2020, story headlined (in the Boston Globe): “Democrats game out an early Trump lead.” The story says that Democrats (only two are named) are thinking of what happens after the election. What… Read Article →

Issues cover up everything.

In our Journalese Dictionary, we define “issues” as: “Just about anything can be an issue…Often used by public relations people, and repeated by reporters, to describe a major calamity, trouble, or catastrophe…” A perfect example was its use in a story about cute solar “flowers” in Somerville, a Boston neighboring city. They are promoted by an electric power company boss, Jim Gordon. Story in the Boston Globe, Aug 10, 2020,… Read Article →

Predictions in the guise of news.

Once upon a time, editors demanded facts from reporters. Today, anything goes, especially opinions, speculation, ideology, soothsaying, and propaganda. The New York Times is the the best example because it is often described as the world’s finest example of high-standard journalism. What brings this on today is a New York Times news story, as published in the Boston Globe, July 13, 2020, about Turkey’s dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan decree turning… Read Article →

What “little-known” really means.

“Little-known” is journalese for “We missed the story.” A perfect illustration of this was in a Boston Globe story July 9, 2020, with this lede: “Four years ago, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called on a little-known civilian oversight board to explore new ways to keep tabs on the city’s police force, monitor misconduct, and recommend policy reforms….But today, again amid national uproar over the police killings of Black people,… Read Article →

Hulking leviathans that fly!

Hulking. One of our favorite journalese adjectives. Usually applied to parking garages or other buildings the reporter doesn’t like. But here’s a brand new application: A Bloomberg News story, published in the Boston Globe, July 3, 2020, starts: “Boeing Co. hasn’t told employees, but the company is pulling the plug on its hulking 747 jumbo jet, ending a half-century run for the twin-aisle pioneer.” The 747 is not only hulking,… Read Article →

Task force to the rescue!

Our dictionary definition of a task force is: “What regular folks call a committee, but usually just as inefficient or useless.” What brings this up is a Boston Globe story, June 27, 2020, headlined: “With complaints about illegal fireworks in Boston skyrocketing, Walsh forms task force.” Mayor Martin J. Walsh was inspired to form the task force by illegal fireworks complaints increasing by 5,543 percent so far in June, compared… Read Article →

Even if you are sober

One of our favorite words in journalese is “sobering.” It’s one of those words you rarely use in everyday speech — unless you’re a bartender. You only see it in news stories. Our dictionary definition: “This is going to wake you up even if you never drink or are already sober.” What brings this up is the Boston Globe’s page 1, top story headline, June 17, 2020: “As virus surges… Read Article →

All’s quiet on the news front

When a reporter writes that something had been done “quietly,” it means he or she missed covering the story when it happened. Great illustration of this is in a Boston Globe story on June 11, 2010, about Governor Baker planning a bill to create a statewide certification process for police. The story says: “Baker is expected to release details of the plan as early as next week, building off the… Read Article →