Signs, signals and signaling

Our journalese dictionary definition of sign is “Another way of offering a reporter’s opinion,” while “signal,” used as a verb, means the reporter figures that something may happen. The New York Times loves signals. A search of the past 12 months gets 402 hits for “signaling.” Here are the latest examples, both on Jan. 19, 2018: “The House approved the measure 230-197, despite conflicting signals by Trump sent throughout the… Read Article →

Observers suggest.

Observers make a wonderful source for reporters. But did you ever wonder who these observers are? People standing around looking at guys digging up a street for the third time in a month? A couple of guys at the Press Club bar? Hacks at City Hall having a smoke under the sign outside that says “No Smoking?” An academic ready to give an opinion to a reporter as long as… Read Article →

Outrage in Norway?

Our dictionary definition of “outrage” is: “What any gang of shouting, fist-raising demonstrators display, usually against a nation or people so far away the demonstrators can safely scream all they want.” Today’s outrage, as anyone who is awake knows, is not against a nation or people but against our President-in-Potty-Mouth. For example, take this New York Times story, headlined in The Boston Globe, Jan. 13, 2018, “From Norway to Haiti,… Read Article →

Eschew this!

Want to make your Mom and Dad proud they put you though college? Simply used fancy words that nobody ever uses in everyday speech because they can’t pronounce them or know what they mean. Take eschew, for example. We define it: “To avoid or shun. Used by reporters and editors who like to show they were not asleep in Shakespeare 101, and who remember Falstaff’s admonition: ‘What cannot be eschw’d… Read Article →

Storm lovers.

The Boston Globe’s Kevin Cullen has a great column Jan. 4, 2018, on the love affair between TV stations and storms. It’s along the lines of how we defined “storm” in our journalese dictionary: “Every TV weather staff has the name ‘storm’ in it. Even if they forecast the most beautiful weather the region has ever had, it is still reported by the ‘Storm Team’ or ‘Storm Center’ or ‘Storm… Read Article →

New England law of weather reporting.

A New England journalese law of weather reporting requires any big storm to be called a “nor’easter.” It doesn’t matter if the storm is from the south or west, it’s a nor’easter. Sounds tough. And in keeping with the law, The Boston Globe identified the current storm a nor’easter, in a page one story Jan. 4, 2017. This irked a reader, whose letter to the editor was published the next… Read Article →

Raising concerns.

Concern is classic journalese to describe any degree of worry. Everyone, everywhere is concerned about something. A quick search of Boston Globe archives turns up 39,000 hits. Of course, some of those may refer to a business or company. Our Journalese Dictionary’s definition of concerned is: “Somebody’s worried. Vince Filak found that concerned citizens are usually loud people who showed up at something.” Our definition of concerns is: “When not… Read Article →

Appeared to be…

I’ll wind up 2017 with a New York Times favorite method of publishing a reporter’s vision of something that’s happening. The vision may or may not be true. It’s what it “appears to be.” There are protests all over Iran, with protesters shouting slogans against the theocratic regime. Here’s how the New York Times story on Dec 30, 2017, begins: “Protests over the government’s handling of the economy spread to… Read Article →

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 →