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Journalism lingo from the day, and today

"Is someone saying this, or is it the voice of the newspaper?"

The inspiration for the list that follows came from a 1986 reporting trip to a Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, the year it featured Tennessee. Yes, the Tennessean paid for me to go.

The exhibits included an old-fashioned building set up with a mock courtroom inside.
And attorneys or people portraying them appeared to be presenting cases, using what was described as the folklore of American trial lawyers.

Later I thought, there's a folklore of journalism as well, just as there is for making pottery or woven baskets. So much of what journalists learned was informal, or orally transmitted, at least in my case. Coming into the Tennessean newsroom from the music biz at 31, I sometimes had to hide what I didn't know until I figured it out. Often, the terms meant something different inside the newsroom. Think agate, read, shooter, container.

There are several other wordbooks of journalism lore. Here's one t…

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