Monthly Archives: September 2019

To sober up, or not.

. Our journalese dictionary definition of sobering is: “This is going to wake you up even if you never drink or are already sober.” However, when it comes to college students, who rarely, if ever, need sobering, they soon will sober up. Or need a drink. Here’s a teaser by Boston’s TV channel 5, WCVB news, on Sept. 19, 2019: “A new and sobering statistic about student loans.” File under:… Read Article →

From hulking to glittering.

Friends might recall that several weeks ago I noted how The Boston Globe violated the Law of Hulking by characterizing the Boston Harbor Encore casino as “hulking,” a word that exclusively is applied to parking garages or other large buildings the reporter doesn’t like and developers want to replace with money-making offices or condos. Evidently, word went out that a venture the Globe endorsed, and especially one that is owned… Read Article →

Hifallutin words law

The New York Times has a rule, not found in its Style Manual, that says every story must use at least one word that the average reader must go to a dictionary to understand. And even then, it may not make much sense. An example of this was “transformational” in the following lede of a story about the Sept. 12, 2019, Democratic candidates’ “debate” : “HOUSTON — The leading Democratic… Read Article →

The hulking supertanker

Traditional journalese calls for “hulking” to be the description of a parking garage or other large building a reporter doesn’t like, and which, by coincidence, a well-heeled developer and pal of the mayor wants to replace with high-rise condos or an office building. But USA Today on Sept 8, 2019, has an unusual application: a supertanker. Here’s the story lede: “WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has used diplomatic pressure, legal… Read Article →

Moby Dick Law of Journalese

A little-known (that means the reporter just learned something he or she hopes most people haven’t heard about): The Moby Dick Law of Journalese. Reporters at New England newspapers (what’s left of them) must regularly use Moby Dick as a metaphor. This is to show that the reporters remembered something from American Lit 101. The law is especially enforced in coastal newspapers, even though Herman Melville wrote “Moby Dick” in… Read Article →