Monthly Archives: December 2020

Amazing sources in the know

Our Journalese Dictionary has a chapter devoted to “Source Sorcery.” It solves the mystery of who reporters’ sources really are. The Washington Post illustrated this in a story Dec. 14, 2020, on Russians’ hacking into U.S. treasury and commerce internet systems. In the first seven paragraphs, the story repeats five times that its source is “people familiar with the matter.” No names, of course, since those people familiar with the… Read Article →

Clearing up unclear.

Classic journalese calls for using the word “unclear” when a reporter or editor has absolutely no idea of the facts. “Unclear” sounds much better than, “We don’t know what the hell is true, but we’ll report it anyhow.” A great illustration was in a cutline of a page 1 photo in the Boston Globe, Dec 3, 2020, showing a bunch of Trump supporters. Cutline read: “It’s unclear how many will… Read Article →