NY Times bamboozle rule.

The New York Times has a little-publicized rule that requires reporters to use, in news or feature stories, words understood only by readers who are expert solvers of their crossword puzzles. The more often such words are used the better chance for promotion to copy editor. This rule was illustrated in a story Dec. 23, 2018, about the increasing number of black surfers (the ocean wave-riding kind; not internet geeks)… Read Article →

Travel guides and cobblestones

Boston Sunday Globe travel writer Christopher Muther has a good story, Dec. 23, 2018, headlined “Why do travel guides get Boston wrong?” He starts: “In the 25 years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve stepped on more dog excrement than cobblestones.” We didn’t quite say it that way in our Journalese Dictionary when we defined cobblestones: “All quaint towns or neighborhoods are paved with cobblestones, even when they are not. ‘Boston’s… Read Article →

Adjectives galore at the NY Times

Back in the old days of journalism, copy editors prohibited adjectives and adverbs unless they were absolutely necessary to the story. Today, they are welcomed: the more the merrier. The New York Times is a champion. Example: In this one lede sentence on Dec. 18, 2018, the Times has five adjectives: “BEIJING — Facing deepening tensions abroad and anxieties at home, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, delivered an unabashed defense of… Read Article →

Garbage by any other name…

Politically correct reporting can be amusing. A great example was in a news report on Boston’s WCVB, Channel 5, on Dec 11, 2018. The reporter told how a fire broke out in a “recycling truck” in a residential neighborhood. The into and text also called it a “recycling truck.” Two witnesses were interviewed. One called it a “trash truck” the other a “garbage truck.” I expect Sigmund Freud would have… Read Article →

Freaking out.

Journalese, the language of the press, has always adopted slang, jargon or lingo of politicians, business hot-shots, gurus of various stripes, hacks and flacks. Today, when the press is “social media,” journalese adopts the vocabulary of teen-agers, the trend-setting linguists of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and you name it. Here’s an example, a headline from the Boston Globe business section, Dec. 8, 2018: “The jobs report is good news… Read Article →

Bring on the modifiers!

The New York Times loves adjectives, adverbs and any other modifier, whether they make sense or not. Jazzing up a text is what counts. Here’s an example from Nov. 27, 2018, in a story about Russia’s shooting at a Ukrainian navy ship: “The confrontation Sunday, in the vicinity of the Kerch Strait, a narrow passage between the Black and Azov seas, was a serious escalation in the conflict between Russia… Read Article →

Headline groaner

Headline Groaner of the Day: Boston Herald gets the honor, with this Nov. 6, 2018, headline over unhappy story of the Dedham, MA.-based pizza chain, going bankrupt and filing for Chapter 11: Papa Gino’s runs out of dough. + + + www.JournaleseDictionary.com

Every gangster a maffia boss

A journalese law in Sweden requires that every leading American gangster be identified as a “maffia boss.” This law was dutifully followed by Dagens Nyheter, Sweden’s largest morning daily, on Oct 31, 2018, in a story about Boston murderer and FBI snitch James “Whitey” Bulger. Headline: “Maffiabossen ‘Whitey’ Bulger död i fängelse” (Maffia boss Whitey Bulger dead in prison). The story quotes the Boston Globe, and the text again identifies… Read Article →

Misrepresented? And how!

“Misrepresented” is journalese for “Boy! Did we screw up!” And blaming it on an “editorial error” is pure fantasy since newspapers no longer have copy editors who do any editing. Here’s a beautiful example in a correction in the Boston Globe, Oct. 24, 2018: “Because of an editing error, a caption in This Day in History in the Boston Sunday Globe misrepresented the history of the USS Constitution. The vessel… Read Article →

Fired, hired and we didn’t predict it

What would we do without journalese? We ask that question in our introduction to our dictionary. This question is illustrated by The Boston Globe’s page one top story, Sept. 2, 2018, with a headline that uses three classic journalese terms: oust, tap and stunning: “GE ousts chief executive after 14 months “In stunning move, conglomerate taps outsider in effort to reverse slide, restore investors’ faith” www.JournaleseDictionary.com