Predictions in the guise of news.

Once upon a time, editors demanded facts from reporters. Today, anything goes, especially opinions, speculation, ideology, soothsaying, and propaganda. The New York Times is the the best example because it is often described as the world’s finest example of high-standard journalism. What brings this on today is a New York Times news story, as published in the Boston Globe, July 13, 2020, about Turkey’s dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan decree turning… Read Article →

What “little-known” really means.

“Little-known” is journalese for “We missed the story.” A perfect illustration of this was in a Boston Globe story July 9, 2020, with this lede: “Four years ago, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called on a little-known civilian oversight board to explore new ways to keep tabs on the city’s police force, monitor misconduct, and recommend policy reforms….But today, again amid national uproar over the police killings of Black people,… Read Article →

Hulking leviathans that fly!

Hulking. One of our favorite journalese adjectives. Usually applied to parking garages or other buildings the reporter doesn’t like. But here’s a brand new application: A Bloomberg News story, published in the Boston Globe, July 3, 2020, starts: “Boeing Co. hasn’t told employees, but the company is pulling the plug on its hulking 747 jumbo jet, ending a half-century run for the twin-aisle pioneer.” The 747 is not only hulking,… Read Article →

Task force to the rescue!

Our dictionary definition of a task force is: “What regular folks call a committee, but usually just as inefficient or useless.” What brings this up is a Boston Globe story, June 27, 2020, headlined: “With complaints about illegal fireworks in Boston skyrocketing, Walsh forms task force.” Mayor Martin J. Walsh was inspired to form the task force by illegal fireworks complaints increasing by 5,543 percent so far in June, compared… Read Article →

Even if you are sober

One of our favorite words in journalese is “sobering.” It’s one of those words you rarely use in everyday speech — unless you’re a bartender. You only see it in news stories. Our dictionary definition: “This is going to wake you up even if you never drink or are already sober.” What brings this up is the Boston Globe’s page 1, top story headline, June 17, 2020: “As virus surges… Read Article →

All’s quiet on the news front

When a reporter writes that something had been done “quietly,” it means he or she missed covering the story when it happened. Great illustration of this is in a Boston Globe story on June 11, 2010, about Governor Baker planning a bill to create a statewide certification process for police. The story says: “Baker is expected to release details of the plan as early as next week, building off the… Read Article →

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 →