Obligatory wreaking of havocs.

A law of journalese requires that havoc must be wreaked. When was the last time you heard someone say, “Boy, did that wreak havoc!!” Right: never. It’s journalese, mainly used in headlines, no matter where or why the particular havoc had been wreaked. An illustration was in headlines in stories in The Boston Globe and Boston Herald, both on Sept. 16, 2018. Globe: “At least 16 dead as typhoon wreaks… Read Article →

Jaw-dropping lives on

One of the best-loved clichés in journalism is “jaw dropping.” Our dictionary’s definition: “Reporter says you are going to be so shocked you’ll look like an idiot with your mouth wide open.” What brings this up is a page one story in The Boston Globe, Sept. 7, 2018, about what’s going on in Washington these days: “It’s as if the reality television show that has consumed the nation’s capital for… Read Article →

Bring on the modifiers.

The New York Times is a champion user of modifiers — adjectives, adverbs, phrases. A story on Sept. 3, 2018 is a classic example. Headlined (in The Boston Globe) “Political tide is changing in Sweden,” it has 24 adjectives and adverbs in its 12 sentences. It starts: “As an angry and divided Sweden prepares to vote Sunday, the shape of the next government is unclear because of the rise of… Read Article →

Crickets and rumors.

When does a slang expression become journalese? Guess the answer is whenever reporters and editors start using it regularly. The word “crickets” is a great example. It’s popping up all over the place. What brings this on is a jump-head in a Boston Globe story Aug. 16, 2018, about Amazon’s search for a second headquarters site. Boston is in the bidding war. Here’s the jump-head: “After bust of HQ2 fanfare,… Read Article →

Architects’ fantasy renditions

An obscure Law of Journalism requires that media publish without comment architects’ renditions of new buildings and street scenes. Editors who would never publish a fake photo readily accept renditions that are pure fantasy. What brings this on is a drawing of a controversial proposed 600-foot tower on Boston’s waterfront. The drawing accompanies a column by Dante Ramos in the Boston Sunday Globe, July 1, 2018. https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2018/06/29/don-chiofaro-your-design-had-better-good/VMNjsO5PLfVURqXALN6uTI/story.html The architects’ rendition,… Read Article →

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 →