Tout, used as it should be used

At last, a reporter uses a journalese favorite, tout, the way it originally was used and how the American Heritage dictionary defines it: “To solicit customers, votes, or patronage, especially in a brazen way.” A story in the Boston Globe, Feb 16, 2017, by STAT (a science news service affiliated with the Globe), about Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, is headlined “He vowed to cure cancer — But this billionaire’s moonshot is falling far short of the hype.” The story says: “The moonshot website also touts a ‘historic alliance’ with companies like Bank of America…and Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia. The role of both appears to be simply that they cover doctors’ use of the GPS Cancer diagnostic for patients on their insurance plans.”

Our Journalese Dictionary quotes Mike Feinsilber of the Associated Press on use of tout: “It is a nice, short lead word. But to some (read that: me) it has a tawdry, racetrack, carnivalish tone, maybe because it originally described the act of soliciting bets on a horserace. In any event, we tout too much.”

And how! Here are a few recent examples from my headline file:

“Fiat scion touts US justice after case dropped.” AP, Jan 25.

“Charlie Baker touts hundreds of complaints about pay boost.” Boston Herald, Jan 28.

“Trump touts less regulations, cheaper drugs for pharma industry.” Boston Business Journal, Feb 1.

“MBTA touts upgrades but urges patience as storm moves in.” Boston Herald, Feb 9.

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