Separated by a common language.

A quote attributed to George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill: “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” It’s illustrated in a New York Times story, June 3, 2020, headlined “Journalists report being targeted by police at protests.” Includes this sentence, which will bring smiles to Brits: “In some instances, journalists were attacked after telling officers that they were on the job.” File under: By… Read Article →

Like the sun, tensions always rise

One of the most popular journalese expressions is “rising tensions.” An obscure law of reporting requires tensions to always rise or escalate or grow or heighten. Tensions must never decline or lessen. The rule prohibits the reporter to follow up and report what happened to the rising tensions. Was there war? Or at least massing of troops on borders? If the tensions fizzle out, forget it. It’s not news. What… Read Article →

Flying off the shelves.

“Flying off the shelves” is classic journalese, a cliché that never flies off newsroom shelves and disappears but is always available to reporters and editors who can’t come up with something more imaginative. It’s now in favor when it comes to toilet paper and hand sanitizer. But leave it to the New York Times to discover that guns are also in flight, as is seen in a story, Mar. 16,… Read Article →

Anonymous sources

A tip of the hat to Mike Feinsilber, eagle-eyed editor, for this one: From the New York Times Cooking email: “Those who enjoy the framing of “on the condition of anonymity” clauses in newspaper articles will enjoy this account of the closing of the Marine Basin Marina in Brooklyn, in the Brooklyn Paper. “ ‘It’s a huge loss for Brooklyn,’ said a marina tenant, who spoke on the condition of… Read Article →

Everything and anything is innovation.

A new Law of Journalse requires that anything must be called innovation that is claimed to be innovation by politicians or promoters. The late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino loved the word so much he named the development area of the old South Boston waterfront the “Innovation District.” The name didn’t last long, and is now the Seaport, which has little sign of innovation, other than possibly one curved glass tower… Read Article →

Analog and the bent yellow fruit law.

: Great example of the Bent Yellow Fruit Law of Journalism, which prohibits use of the same important word in a sentence (banana becomes a bent yellow fruit) is found in The Boston Globe’s page one piece, Feb 26, 2020, about Michael Bloomberg’s high school years in Medford, a Boston suburban city. Headlined, “His road to the big stage started in Medford,” the story quotes a classmate, Carmen Comite, who… Read Article →

Hulking tower in Boston

As you know, there’s a journalese law requiring any parking garage to be described as “hulking.” Unfortunately, there’s no law that requires a reporter to divulge how many stories there will be in a high-rise proposed to replace the “hulking” garage. This was seen in a Boston Globe story Jan. 23, 2020, about the latest plan by developer Don Chiafaro for a $1.2 billion monster on the Boston waterfront, to… Read Article →

When there’s a worst…

Reading the lede in this AP story, Jan. 18, 2020, under the Boston Globe headline: “Riots in Lebanon’s capital leave more than 150 injured,” and you wonder, “What the hell kind of reporting is this?” “BEIRUT — Police fired volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets in Lebanon’s capital Saturday to disperse thousands of protesters amid some of the worst rioting since demonstrations against the country’s ruling elite erupted three… Read Article →

Teaser of the Week.

Teasers. Click-Bait. Same thing, except teasers are on TV, and the Teaser of the Week Award goes to David Muir, anchor of ABC TV News. We are familiar with his excited introductions of the day’s news, which usually includes something like “The storm threatens 54 million Americans…” Or, “Fire in a major city demolishes….” Or, “Highway crash creates ten mile long traffic jam…” The idea, of course, is to keep… Read Article →

Every dictator’s troops.

Our Journalese Definition of “elite” is: “Any third world army unit that has polished boots and can march in step.” We could amend that definition to include, “The main duty of such elite soldiers is to shoot student demonstrators and other unarmed dissidents.” What brings this up is the media’s compulsion to describe the late General Soleimani as head of “the elite Quds Force.” For example, a search of the… Read Article →