Monthly Archives: December 2017

Byzantine popularity

Yesterday, I commented on The Boston Globe’s use of a journalese favorite, Byzantine. And sure enough, it pops up again today, and again in a page one story, but in a whole new application: tavern history. The story is about three Boston taverns that may or may not be Boston’s oldest. Feature writer Brian MacQuarrie writes: “But in a city meticulous about its past, finding the oldest tavern can be… Read Article →

Bedazzling with Byzantine

Byzantine is a standard journalese for any laws, legislation, regulations or politics that the reporter wants to dramatically and mysteriously describe, rather than simply saying that they are complicated. Our journalese dictionary defines Byzantine as, “Proud description of every big city’s political machinery.” The Boston Globe, Dec 28, 2017, couldn’t resist pulling out the old “byzantine” in a liquor law proposal, as if Massachusetts is unique in having complicated alcoholic… Read Article →

Amazing sources.

Our journalese dictionary has a chapter titled “Source Sorcery,” which offers a small collection and definitions of sources — well-known, well-loved and well-employed by the news trade. Most are anonymous. Otherwise, those inside sources would be, “John Smith, the Governor’s driver, who whispered….” However, we missed a wonderful source identification that I spotted in a Bloomberg News story, Dec. 27, 2017. The story lede: ” Saudi Arabia expects oil revenues… Read Article →

The Nickname Law

The Journalese Nickname Law is faithfully followed, taking no rest, not even on Christmas Day. The Law requires that every story about a gangster, even an alleged gangster, must include the gangster’s nickname. The Boston Globe religiously (hey, it’s Christmas!) followed the Nickname Law in a story Dec. 25, 2017, starting: “Feared mobster Frank ‘Bobo’ Marrapese. a convicted killer and former member of the Patriarca crime family in Providence, died… Read Article →

What was the reporter smoking?

The Boston Globe has a policy of not publishing the original error when it publishes a correction. Sometimes you can see why. A story on Dec. 17, 2017, about the first Harvest Cup, a trade show for home growers of marijuana, included coverage of a feature event: a 100-foot long joint “containing 2 pounds of weed and assembled in about 100 hours by Beantown Greentown, a marijuana apparel company and… Read Article →

Real estate reporting.

Real estate reporting has its own journalese. All new condos or rental apartments are “luxury.” All tiny galley kitchens are “step-saving.” Any home described as “needing TLC” means it’s a wreck. “Near transportation” means it’s on a very busy, jam-packed highway. The list of real estate journalese is a long one. But a new one that caught our attention is a property listed “for the taking.” This popped up in… Read Article →

Politicians war chests.

Political reporting and commentary brings out a classic journalese term: war chest, for funds stashed away to finance a politician’s next election campaign. An appropriate usage was in a Boston Sunday Globe opinion piece,  Dec. 10, 2017, by Renée Graham. Headlined, “Shooting our way out of a gun epidemic,”  she writes about “the  GOP’s addiction  to the millions it receives from the NRA every year.”  And she goes on: “Republican… Read Article →

Gas prices up a penny!

An obscure law requires that American media must report weekly changes in gasoline retail prices. That’s the only reason you see stories like this one by AP, headlined in the Boston Globe Dec. 12, 2017, “Prices at the pump up a penny.” The story begins: “Massachusetts gas prices are up by a penny this week, but drivers can expect prices to fall this holiday season.” Obviously, every reader — and… Read Article →

Lobster Law

A New England Law of Journalese requires that all headlines or stories about lobsters include the word “claw.” This law was dutifully  followed by the Boston Sunday Globe, Dec 3, 2017, in a front-page story headlined: “Lobster catch crashes, as ocean waters warm.”  The subhead: “In southern New England, little hope that population will claw it’s way back.” File under:  Global warming is getting serious! # # #

The Pope touts…

In our Journalese Dictionary, we define “tout,” as “A favorite verb when a group or promoter is pushing something that an editor doesn’t 100 percent respect. Don’t wait for one like this: ‘Pope touts peace in Yule rap’.”  A headline in the Boston Herald on Dec. 2, 2017, “Car companies tout electrics, hybrids at show,” prompted me to check out whether the Pope does tout something or other. Indeed he… Read Article →