Gubernatorial season

Gubernatorial. Now there’s classic journalese. And during these primary election times, it’s all over the printed media. But have you ever heard anyone say the word, “gubernatorial”? I doubt it. It’s reserved journalese for a governor’s election campaign or contest. Our dictionary definition quotes a 2001 column by Richard Dudman in the Bangor Daily News, pointing out that the word, to him, always sounded like “peanuts in a swimming pool.”… Read Article →

Who ain’t restive?

Restive is one of our favorite journalese adjectives. You rarely hear anyone use it in everyday conversation. Restless, yes. Restive, only in print. The classic scenes in 1930s jungle movies would lose something if the explorers said: “The drums! The drums! They’re driving me mad!” “Yes, indeed, the natives are restive tonight.” What brings this on is the journalese-laden lede of an AP story, May 15, 2018: “MADRID — Lawmakers… Read Article →

Mideast stability?

Reporters and editors are always “raising questions,” which is journalese for “We are speculating….” Here’s one in a sub-headline that should go down as a classic. The Boston Globe page one, top story, May 9, 2018, with the head a quote: ‘A horrible one-sided deal.’ The subhead: “Trump pulls out of Iran nuclear agreement, rattling US allies and raising questions on Mideast stability.” Mideast stability? I wonder where the Globe… Read Article →

Chortle, chuckle and laughing out loud

“Chortle” is classic journalese: a word you never hear spoken in daily conversation, but only used in printed media. A dictionary definition is: “v. to chuckle throatily, and n. a snorting, joyful chuckle.” So we check the definition of chuckle, also classic journalese: “n. to laugh quietly or to oneself, and n. a quiet laugh of mild amusement or satisfaction.” What brings this up is an editorial in The Boston… Read Article →

Go figure!

There’s an obscure rule in the media that only the area of very large disasters is compared to the size of Rhode Island. Smaller, non-disaster areas, such as malls, high-rise office buildings, condo developments, are described simply in square footage. For example, a Boston Sunday Globe story, April 29, 2018, about the Wegman chain’s new supermarket in Natick Mall, outside Boston, reports that the market takes up 146,500 square feet…. Read Article →

When a team is a mob.

“Team” is a wonderful euphemism beloved by corporate BS artists. There are no longer employees or workers or staff or laborers or help or wage-earners. Everyone is part of a team. Sounds like we are all working together, pitching in, the CEO and everyone else, all teammates. And now the team description is echoed by reporters and editors. What brings this up is an Apr. 20, 2018, Washington Post story,… Read Article →

Glitches? Hell, they’re big time defects.

A “glitch” is corporate BS for “Holy Cannoli!! We screwed up huge, man, huge!” In our dictionary, we define glitch as, “A screw-up worse than a hiccup.” Rick Frank, of Newtonville, MA., in a letter to The Boston Globe, April 24, 2018, gets it right. Headlined “In software, let’s admit that what were once ‘glitches’ are now ‘defects’,” Frank writes: “Regarding the recent ‘glitches’ in the state Registry of Motor… Read Article →

Groaner headlines.

An obscure law of journalese requires headline writers to come up with groaners whenever possible. Thus, any headline about fishing must contain the verb hook, any business story about a bakery must have dough in the head, Victoria Secret quarterly reports are revealed, and whenever an old saloon goes out of business it’s ” The last call for…” What brings this on was this beaut of a groaner in The… Read Article →

Journalese du Jour

Our dictionary has a section titled “Plat du journalese,” introduced as “a menu of essential ingredients found in spicing up or watering down restaurant reviews or food features.” Du jour itself is journalese, and a beautiful example was in a short commentary in STAT — the excellent life sciences, biotech, and pharma blog published independently by owners of The Boston Globe. Here’s the Mar. 28, 2018, item: “Mark Zuckerberg is… Read Article →

Data mining an old story

Stories of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytics brouhaha miss a basic point, according to a Boston Herald editorial Mar. 23, 2018, headlined “Data mining not new.” The editorial points out that despite the screaming, there is nothing new nor illegal about it. The editorial says: “This type of scrutiny by detractors is reserved for this particular president. Media raved when the Obama campaign used similar data to target voters in the 2012… Read Article →