Reinvent this.

Lots of corporate BS gets picked up by the media and becomes journalese. One such word is “reinvent.” In our journalese dictionary: “Reinvent: The company is in big trouble. It’s betting on a new CEO, new logo and new color for its main product.” Well, General Electric does not have a new CEO, and it keeps its classic logo, but it’s sure in big trouble, which resulted in this jump… Read Article →

The prohibited T-word.

There’s an obscure exception in the First Amendment that prohibits the media from using the word, “toilet.” The Supreme Court, in an 1843 case, affirmed a Vermont ruling that “bathroom” is acceptable, to be used in place of the prohibited “T-word,” as the Court described “toilet.” The media has used “bathroom” ever since. (A bit of trivia: in arguments, lawyers referred to a plaintiff in the case as John Doe…. Read Article →

Groaner headline of the day.

Groaner headline of the Day: From The Berkshire Eagle, Pittsfield, MA June 13, 2018, here it is: “Drivers urged: As you hurtle, beware of turtles.” Story lede: “PITTSFIELD — Why does the turtle cross the road? Because it has been plodding along low-lying areas since before humans built roads atop them, said herpetologist Tom Tyning, an environmental …..” By the way, they are snapping turtles. Don’t pick them up. #… Read Article →

Crystal ball sees ’em poised.

Poised is one of our favorite journalese words. It’s rarely used in everyday conversation, but is great in headlines. Much shorter and punchier than “getting ready to…,” or “preparing to….” What brings this up is a headline of a New York Times story, June 10, 2018: “Trumps aides seen as poised to jump ship.” This is double journalese, since it also has the usual Times speculation, “seen as…” Of course… Read Article →

How Swede it is.

An obscure Law of Journalese requires that every story about a successful Swedish entrepreneur, inventor, actor, musician, athlete or chef must use the word “Swede” to mean “sweet.” The Boston Globe followed this law in a sports story June 3, 2018, about a former Boston Bruins hockey player, Michael Thelven, who retired and became a wealthy supplier of highly specialized thermometers used in the pharmaceutical industry. The headline: “Ex-Bruin Michael… Read Article →

Pulitzer for speculation?

If there were a Pulitzer for Speculation, an Associated Press story out of Washington on June 2, 2018, would be a sure winner. The story is headlined in The Boston Globe: “US consul shift could rankle Palestinians.” Of course, that’s easy speculation since just about everything rankles Palestinians. But the four sentence story contains three “coulds” and one each of “possibility,” “potent,” “potential,” “implications,” and the inevitable “suggesting.” Here they… Read Article →

Honorable headlinese

Fete. That’s a wonderful headline verb, meaning, according to our American Heritage Dictionary, to honor or celebrate with a festival or to pay honor to. Our own dictionary definition: “Handy in headlines for a bash. When someone is feted, he or she is honored.” What brings this up is a headline in the Boston Herald, May 26, 2018: “Radcliffe fetes Hillary Clinton.” Being journalese, the word is never spoken. which… Read Article →

Gubernatorial season

Gubernatorial. Now there’s classic journalese. And during these primary election times, it’s all over the printed media. But have you ever heard anyone say the word, “gubernatorial”? I doubt it. It’s reserved journalese for a governor’s election campaign or contest. Our dictionary definition quotes a 2001 column by Richard Dudman in the Bangor Daily News, pointing out that the word, to him, always sounded like “peanuts in a swimming pool.”… Read Article →

Who ain’t restive?

Restive is one of our favorite journalese adjectives. You rarely hear anyone use it in everyday conversation. Restless, yes. Restive, only in print. The classic scenes in 1930s jungle movies would lose something if the explorers said: “The drums! The drums! They’re driving me mad!” “Yes, indeed, the natives are restive tonight.” What brings this on is the journalese-laden lede of an AP story, May 15, 2018: “MADRID — Lawmakers… Read Article →

Mideast stability?

Reporters and editors are always “raising questions,” which is journalese for “We are speculating….” Here’s one in a sub-headline that should go down as a classic. The Boston Globe page one, top story, May 9, 2018, with the head a quote: ‘A horrible one-sided deal.’ The subhead: “Trump pulls out of Iran nuclear agreement, rattling US allies and raising questions on Mideast stability.” Mideast stability? I wonder where the Globe… Read Article →