Monthly Archives: December 2018

NY Times bamboozle rule.

The New York Times has a little-publicized rule that requires reporters to use, in news or feature stories, words understood only by readers who are expert solvers of their crossword puzzles. The more often such words are used the better chance for promotion to copy editor. This rule was illustrated in a story Dec. 23, 2018, about the increasing number of black surfers (the ocean wave-riding kind; not internet geeks)… Read Article →

Travel guides and cobblestones

Boston Sunday Globe travel writer Christopher Muther has a good story, Dec. 23, 2018, headlined “Why do travel guides get Boston wrong?” He starts: “In the 25 years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve stepped on more dog excrement than cobblestones.” We didn’t quite say it that way in our Journalese Dictionary when we defined cobblestones: “All quaint towns or neighborhoods are paved with cobblestones, even when they are not. ‘Boston’s… Read Article →

Adjectives galore at the NY Times

Back in the old days of journalism, copy editors prohibited adjectives and adverbs unless they were absolutely necessary to the story. Today, they are welcomed: the more the merrier. The New York Times is a champion. Example: In this one lede sentence on Dec. 18, 2018, the Times has five adjectives: “BEIJING — Facing deepening tensions abroad and anxieties at home, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, delivered an unabashed defense of… Read Article →

Garbage by any other name…

Politically correct reporting can be amusing. A great example was in a news report on Boston’s WCVB, Channel 5, on Dec 11, 2018. The reporter told how a fire broke out in a “recycling truck” in a residential neighborhood. The into and text also called it a “recycling truck.” Two witnesses were interviewed. One called it a “trash truck” the other a “garbage truck.” I expect Sigmund Freud would have… Read Article →

Freaking out.

Journalese, the language of the press, has always adopted slang, jargon or lingo of politicians, business hot-shots, gurus of various stripes, hacks and flacks. Today, when the press is “social media,” journalese adopts the vocabulary of teen-agers, the trend-setting linguists of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and you name it. Here’s an example, a headline from the Boston Globe business section, Dec. 8, 2018: “The jobs report is good news… Read Article →