Monthly Archives: December 2016

Tipping point

As Paul Dickson and I point out in our introduction to “Journalese — A Dictionary for Deciphering the News,” where would we be without journalese? We have used journalese ourselves countless times in our years as journalists and writers. One example is “tipping point,” which I used recently in a piece in our excellent Boston neighborhood newsletter, I wrote that the North End is nearing the tipping point when… Read Article →

Speculation a news

There is more speculation in foreign news stories than on Wall St. A beautiful example is seen in a New York Times story, Jan. 27, 2016, under the headline in the Boston Globe, “China sends a ship — and a message. Some see mission of carrier fleet as signal to Trump.” Here’s the first sentence, with “could” used twice: “The Chinese military deployment of an aircraft carrier to patrol contested… Read Article →


Not really qualifying as journalese — which by is the language of newspapers, and not everyday spoken English — but “seems” has been approved by the media for use in straight news reporting. Back in the old days, a copy editor would give a reporter a dope slap and demand: “Is it a fact or does it seem like a fact?” Today, every reporter is a commentator, offering his or… Read Article →

Hulking eyesore, scores a double.

As you may know, there’s a Law of Journalese that requires all parking garages to be identified as hulking. Another law allows reporters to be architectural critics by identifying buildings they don’t like as eyesores. Boston Globe business columnist Shirley Leung follows these laws in a column Dec 23, 2016, and scores a double by identifying a waterfront parking garage as a ‘hulking eyesore.” Of course, no Globe reporter or… Read Article →

Will tensions mean Facebook at war?

As I have pointed out, reporters love tensions, which ways escalate, increase, worsen but never decrease, calm down or disappear. Tensions climb into tension limbo, ready for the next conflict. Latest example was in a New York Times story, Dec. 21, 2016, with a headline: “Facebook faces new battle in Europe — $200 million fine could result from claim over WhatsApp.” Reporting that European competition officials filed charges claiming Facebook… Read Article →

Non-profits, only the good guys

Any organization identified as a “nonprofit” is invariably one that the reporter admires, sympathizes with and whose opinions are worthwhile and honest. They are often identified as progressive, but never identified as leftist, left-leaning, ultra-liberal or, heaven forbid, moon-bats (except by Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr). Politically conservative organizations are never identified as nonprofit even though they have the same nonprofit status as the goody-goody outfits. Instead they are identified… Read Article →

Curved Yellow Fruit Law and many, many.

The Curved Yellow Fruit Law of Journalese prohibits using the same noun or adjective twice in one sentence. The Law was named after an editor rewrote a sentence to read, “Banana planation workers were striking for higher pay for picking the curved yellow fruit.” Two great illustrations of the law were in a column in the Boston Globe, Dec. 16, 2016, with the lede sentence: “When Donald Trump recently attacked… Read Article →

Don’t kill a story with facts

Not quite journalese, but there’s an old reporting law told countless times at the Press Club bar: “Don’t kill a story with facts.” A great illustration of this is an AP story, published in the Boston Globe, Dec. 13, 2016, under the headline: “Nation’s first offshore wind farm opens off coast of Rhode Island.” The story reports that Deepwater Wind has started “producing energy” from its five wind turbines 3… Read Article →

Some say…

A journalese Law of Exaggeration requires a reporter to find an oddball, get a quote, and start the story, “Some say…” A perfect example was The Boston Globe’s page one story Dec 12, 2016, that had this headline and subhead: “Monday night at Gillette? They’re punting. Some diehard fans opt to watch Patriots from comfort of home.” The story quoted five fans, three from New Hampshire, who were not going… Read Article →

Everyone is an analyst

Judging from reporting world-wide, just about anyone can be an analyst — a flack, hack, lobbyist, politician, militant, hustler, con-man, BS-artist — anyone who opens his or her mouth. They used to be called observers, who, if they were not the reporters themselves, were regulars at the press club bar. But “analyst” sounds much more serious, a thoughtful guy whose views you should respect, a guy who analyzes stuff exactly… Read Article →