Monthly Archives: June 2018

Crediting the opposition

An obscure law of journalism prohibits reporters and editors from letting readers or viewers or listeners know that the opposition media beat them in uncovering a major story. The alternative is also a law: Never fail to report that their paper or TV or radio station was first to reveal a story. For example, The Boston Globe rarely misses a chance to tell readers the Globe uncovered the priest scandal,… Read Article →

Headline groaner

Headline groaner of the day: “All decks on hand for luxe seaside life” — Boston Herald, June 24, 2018. Real estate page story starts: “Massachusetts doesn’t lack for breathtaking water views, but Cohasset’s signature granite rock outcroppings allow for an especially inspiring vantage point. That’s where you’ll find the 2002 Victorian-style home at 3 Jerusalem Lane. Only 25 miles outside of Boston, the property feels much further removed, nestled in… Read Article →

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 →