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 that includes broadcast and international stuff.

My goal here is particularly to preserve lore that likely won't be used any more, along with regional or even newspaper-specific usages. Quite often, similar items are called different things at different papers. Cf: The lede art, the play picture, the dominant art, the centerpiece or CP, and, at the News & Observer, the display.

I've put a long list below, and intend to fill in definitions and new terms as time goes by. I'd be glad for anyone to send in definitions, additional terms, or general observations. I'm not personally as interested in web-based terms, because they aren't vanishing, but will gladly add if anyone sends them in.

Send ideas, definitions or lore to me at tommygoldsmith@gmail.com.

Stories, photos
  • A1 meeting: afternoon meeting to choose stories for the print paper. Also, 1A meeting.
  • ADD (WSJ)
  • AGATE: small type used in reporting some sports scores or other detailed information
  • AMEs: Assistant managing editors
  • AP: Associated Press
  • ACEs: Assistant city editors
  • ADVANCE: N. story or other coverage that runs ahead of an event: "Should we advance the Michael Peterson trial, again?"
  • ADVANCE: v. 1. How do we advance this story? 2. Should we advance this event?
  • ANALYSIS: Story that takes a more distant look at an event or events, as opposed to breaking coverage.
  • ANECDOTAL LEDE: Story that begins with a story, ideally taking the reader quite briefly to the news of the story.
    TIP: Never use any variant of this lede: "Little did old Granny White know that she would be set upon by thieves and beaten when she left her home on May 19." After first imitating old Granny Jones' creaky affect, Herman would say, reasonably: "If she had known, she wouldn't have gone!"
  • ART: Any visual element, not just a photo. A map, a grafik (q.v.), a photo, an illustration.
  • ART ONLY: A photo or other element unconnected to a story, with just a cutline.  
  • ATTRIBUTE: v. To give the source of a quote or other information.
  • B MATTER: Copy prepared in advance, often before an election or trial. Gives the background that won't changed no matter what the result, and that can be TOPPED.
  • BACKFIELD
  • BACKGROUND
  • BACKSTORY
  • BEAT
  • BEAT REPORTER
  • BEEF UP
  • BIGFOOT, v.
  • BILLBOARD
  • BKB, etc.
  • BREAKING
  • BOILERPLATE
  • BOX
  • BUDGET
  • BUDGET LINES
  • BUDGET MEETING
  • BULLETIN
  • BURLEY
  • BYLINE
  • CALLS routine checks with city, county or other officials. "I made my calls…"
  • CANNED OBIT
  • CENTERPIECE
  • CHECKING cops, warrants, courts, federal court
  • CITY, the n. Edition of the newspaper, printed last, that has the latest news and goes to the metropolitan area.
  • CITY DESK
  • CITYSIDE
  • CLEAN COPY
  • CLICKS
  • CLIPS
  • COLOR
  • COLOR PAGE
  • COLUMN, two meanings
  • COLUMNIZE
  • COMPELLING QUESTION
  • COMMUNITY PAPER
  • CONTAINER
  • CONTEST ENTRY
  • COPS, DAY COPS, NIGHT COPS, POLICE BEAT
  • COP SHOP
  • COPY n.
  • COPY BLOCK
  • COPY DESK
  • CORRESPONDENT
  • COVERAGE
  • CRAP IT OUT
  • CUTLINE
  • CQ
  • CX
  • DATELINE
  • DEADLINES
  • DEATH WATCH
  • DECK
  • DEEP CUTLINE
  • DISPLAY
  • DIVERSE, DIVERSITY
  • DMEs
  • DOMINANT ART
  • DOUBLE TRUCK
  • DOWN-PAGE
  • DUMB DOWN
  • DUMMIES
  • EARLY REPORTER
  • EMBARGO
  • EDITORIAL, meaning one
  • EDITORIAL, meaning two
  • ENGLISH, put it in
  • ENTERPRISE
  • ENVIRONMENTAL PORTRAIT
  • EXCLUSIVE
  • EXPLAINER
  • FEATURES
  • FEATURE OBIT
  • FETCH, a
  • FILER: file photo
  • FIRST, the, in editions
  • FLAGWAVER
  • FLUFF
  • FOCUS
  • FOLD, the
  • FOLO
  • FURNITURE
  • FUTURES BUDGET
  • GAMER: game story in sports.
  • GLORIFIED MUG
  • GO, as in “That’s what gives the story some ‘go.’”
  • GRAF
  • GRAFIK
  • GREEN
  • HANDOUT
  • HANDOUT ART
  • HARD EDIT/SOFT EDIT
  • HARD NEWS LEDE
  • HED
  • HEDSHOT
  • HELL of a story
  • HEY, MARTHA
  • HOLD
  • HOLD TO FRONT
  • IF YOU GO
  • IF YOU TUNED IN LATE
  • INCHES
  • INFOGRAFIK
  • INSERT (WSJ)
  • ITALIC PRECEDE
  • JARGON ALERT
  • JUBE
  • JUMP
  • JUMP BACKWARDS
  • KILL
  • LATE REPORTER
  • LAYOUT
  • LEAD ART
  • LEAD QUOTE
  • LEDE
  • LEDE ALL
  • LEG MAN
  • LINE EDIT
  • LOCAL ANGLE
  • LOCALIZE (wsj)
  • LOMAP
  • LOOKAHEAD
  • MAGAZINE lede
  • MAINSTREAMING
  • MAN ON STREET
  • MAST, on the
  • MOVE a story
  • MORGUE (wsj)
  • MUG
  • MUGS and quotes
  • NATIONAL PAGE
  • NEWS ACTION
  • NEWS HOLE (wsj)
  • NEWS lede
  • NEWS OBIT
  • NEWSROOM
  • NIGHT EDITOR
  • NIGHT REPORTER
  • NO-JUMP
  • NUT GRAF
  • OBIT PAGE
  • OFF the record, off.
  • OFF-lead
  • ON DEADLINE
  • ON the record
  • ONE ON ONE
  • ONE-SOURCE STORY
  • OPINION LABEL
  • OVER-RUN
  • PAPER, a.  the physical newspaper
  • PAPER, the n. the physical location of the newspaper. (Ex: "I'm going to swing by the paper around midnight and pick up a city edition.)
  • PARACHUTE
  • PENCIL CHECKING
  • PICA
  • PICA pole
  • PICTURE EDITOR
  • PITCH v.
  • POD
  • POD GOD
  • POST MORTEM
  • PREMISE
  • PRESSER
  • PROFILE
  • PUFF PIECE
  • PUB DATE
  • Q&A
  • QUICK TURN
  • RAIL
  • REAL PEOPLE
  • REAX
  • REFER, pronounced "reefer"
  • REPORTAGE
  • ROUNDUP
  • RUN and GUN
  • SCOOP, SCOOPAGE
  • SCRATCH, a
  • SECOND-DAY LEDE
  • SECONDARY ART
  • SEND, SEND OVER
  • SCENE-SETTER
  • SHARP FOCUS
  • SHIRTTAIL (WSJ), two meanings
  • SHOOTER
  • SIGNAL X
  • SITDOWN
  • SLANT (WSJ)
  • SOFT adj.
  • SPADEA
  • SPARK
  • SPECIALTIES
  • SPORTS ACTION
  • SPIKE, n. or v.
  • STAFF/WIRE
  • STANDALONE:
  • STATE DESK
  • STATE edition
  • STET
  • STORY
  • STORY NAME
  • STORY SLIP
  • STORY TIL NOW
  • STRINGER
  • SUBHED
  • SUBMITTED ART
  • SUNDAY, the
  • SWEEP
  • TALKER
  • TEAM
  • TEAM LEADER
  • TEARJERKER
  • THUMBNAIL
  • THUMBSUCKER: sentimental story that relies on telling, but contains little news.
  • TICK-TOCK: story that recounts some significant incident minute by minute
  • TIGHTEN
  • TOP
  • TOPICS
  • UPI
  • VOICE, two meanings
  • VOICE of the newspaper: The perceived source of information that's not otherwise attributed. "Do we have somebody saying that, or is it the voice of the Beacon-Journal?"
  • WALK and TALK
  • WALKUP
  • WEEKAHEAD
  • WILD ART: See ART ONLY
  • WIRE STYLE
  • WRITE-THRU
  • WX
  • YARN
People
  • ACES: Assistant city editors
  • A.M.E.s: Assistant Managing Editors
  • BEAT REPORTER:
  • CITY EDITOR or METRO EDITOR
  • COPY CLERK
  • D.M.E.: deputy managing editor
  • DIVA, PRIMA DONNA, HOTSHOT,
  • DIVERSITY
  • Editorial: two definitions
  • E.E.: Executive Editor
  • I-Team: investigative team
  • G.A.: General assignment reporter
  • Guy Team: Sardonicism for all-male investigative team
  • LATE REPORTER
  • LEAD REPORTER
  • LEGMAN
  • LINE EDITOR: staffer who does the initial read on stories, often assigns as well. lowest rung on editing ladder.
  • M.E.: managing editor
  • OBIT CLERK
  • PHOTOJOURNALIST
  • PICTURE EDITOR, sometimes PHOTO DIRECTOR
  • REWRITE MAN
  • RIM EDITOR
  • SLOT EDITOR
  • STRINGER: reporter who isn't full-time, sometimes covering a specific area.
  • SHOOTER: photographer
  • WILD ART
Actions
  • CLEAN UP
  • COPY EDIT
  • FOCUS:
  • LET RUN, CAN RUN
  • READ: to edit
  • REFOCUS
  • RESCUE
  • TIGHTEN

Adjectives
  • MAGAZINE-STYLE
  • NYT-STYLE
  • WIRE-STYLE


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