Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Jargon used in Journalism: How we Cheese Argot in Newsrooms (H to S)

Journalism Jargon H to S or go to previous A to G

Happy Talk: The casual banter between news anchors and other people “on air” is happy talk. In India, it is slightly different: we happy talk a lot on salary days, you see.

Jingle: Short piece of music played on radio to identify a regular feature, or program

Jumpline or ‘Conti’: A line of type at the bottom of an incomplete newspaper or magazine article that directs the reader to another page where the story is continued

Kicker: A few words at the beginning of a headline, top of the introduction to a story, or caption to grab the reader's attention.

Kill, or Spike: To cancel or delete all or part of a story, or to ‘kill’ an article submitted for publication (Spike)

Kill fee: A reduced fee paid to a freelance journalist for a story that is not used.

MF: No, it’s not the word you use in the middle of tough day. ‘Mf’ stands for ‘more-to-follow.’ It is typed at the end of copy to signify that there is more of the story to come, either on another page or later in the process.

Mojo: Mobile journalists who use light and portable reporting and communications tools such as mobile camera phones, PDAs and notebook wireless computers to record, edit and transmit their work in text, audio, pictures and video while in the field, without using an office

Morgue: Our journalism also reflects our violent world. ‘Morgue’ here is actually a peaceful, docile space. ‘Morgue’ is a newsroom’s library, where old newspapers, clippings and pictures are stored for reference

Noddy: In television, a shot of a reporter or interviewer listening to an interviewee’s answer, often nodding his head. That head when being interviewed – That is why I never nod my head when being interviewd. I’d certainly dislike being called ‘Noddy Ngulllie.’

Nut Graf: It is a paragraph telling the essential elements of a story briefly, i.e. ‘in a nutshell’

Nut Graf (also ‘bullet points’): It refers to a paragraph or box containing the essential elements of a story. That you know. Next, please.

Orphan: That’s the first sentence of a paragraph left incomplete. Poor thing.

Pack Journalism: “When individual journalists competing for coverage of an event or issue act together, like a pack of dogs chasing the same quarry”

Pitman: It is shorthand mainly used in Britain and associated countries. Pitman is a faster shorthand system – that is why I use Teeline because I like cruising and enjoying the scenery.

Pork (Mainly US): Nothing to do with Nagaland here. Pork is materials gathered by a journalist but withheld for later use or whenever required

Put to bed: You ‘put to bed’ a newspaper when you have finished work on preparing the next edition and has begun printing it

Re-jig: You ‘regij’ when you rewrite a story or reorganise a page by moving elements around

Scare Quote: That is the word or short phrase placed between quotation marks (‘’ or “) when they are not necessary but to emphasize on the incongruity, bizarreness of a statement, or to suggest disbelief. Example: The Home Minister said the rise in prices of essential commodities in Delhi was due to "global warming."

Scrum: A gathering of reporters around a person, all competing to ask questions or take photographs

Slug: A keyword or phrase that identifies a news story or the reporter while it is being prepared for final editing

I always use slugs in my news reports just in case they get lost in the reporters’ archives: For example, ‘CM on Oil Issue June 1 Story Batman Ngullie.’

Spill, or Jump (US): The continuation of a story from one page to another. In Nagaland, we call it ‘Continuation.’ It is local, you see.

Stab, or Sting: Another reflection of our violent world, I suppose. It is actually the short, pre-recorded sound inserted into a program to create a pause or provide a break between different segments. It is a short piece of music (from 5 to 30 seconds) played in program breaks or to add drama. Stings are either dramatic music or based on station identification melodies

Stop Press: In newspapers, the space left blank in a finished newspaper layout to accommodate urgent breaking news, or the process of stopping the printing process to insert breaking news. 

Jargon used in Journalism: How we Cheese Argot in Newsrooms (T to Z)

Journalism Jargon T to Z or go to previous H to S

Talkback: (a) A type of radio program in which the presenter invites listeners to telephone in and speak on air (b) Two-way intercom equipment by which a radio or television presenter or newsreader in a studio can communicate with producers or directors in a control room.

Tease, or Bumpers in broadcast: It refers to materials promoting a story which ‘teases’ the reader or listener by hinting at but not revealing the real story. “Meet the journalist who suffered from a phobia for English. Find out why in the next part of this article/program.’

Technobabble: That’s confusing technical jargon for you

The Rushes: Early edited version of video or film that needs further editing. In other words, The Rushes are the unedited materials

Thirty or ‘30’ in text (US): Reporters used to type "30" at the end of copy to signify the end of the article. It is retired now, replaced by the word "end" or three hashes "###". Read Hadass Kogan's explanation here.

Throw: Where one person on-air ‘throws’ the task of presentation to someone else. Example: ‘And now we go to our reporter who is at the scene ...’

Vox Pop, or Streeters: From the Latin vox populi ‘voice of the people’, short interviews where members of the public are stopped at random, often on the streets or public areas, and asked questions

Wob: In my college days, a wob was someone who lacked social skills or was ‘bad’ with girls. In journalism, a wob is the white text on a black or dark coloured background. Cute, is it not?

5 Ws and the H (WWWW & H): The ‘Who,’ ‘What,’ ‘Where,’ ‘When,’ ‘Why,’ and the ‘How’: The six most important questions journalists are expected to ask and his news stories should answer

Standfirst: It is the line of text right after the headline that gives more information about the article

Zinger: This one is one of my favorites, more so because we used the term in college to describe girls who were, well, good in hijacking the thermometer. In other words, ‘hot.’ That is, if you were “hot” girl, you were a ‘Zinger’! My English Honors class in Patkai Christian College had quite a population of Zingers, you see.

Oh well, but in journalism, ‘Zinger’ is an unusual and generally humorous feature story often placed at the end of a story, or a newscast. How boring is that?

I shall be updating the jargon as more inventions come up. Which is your favorite? 

go to previous H to S   

Jargon used in Journalism: How we Cheese Argot in Newsrooms

Journalism, a profession that runs on words, wags a tongue of its own: jargon, slang, gobbledygook and fickle vernacular, and other specialist terminologies. They form a unique linguistic system that could fill a library of glossaries – just to numb the layman. Just keep praying that the specialist newsroom terminology never goes to the printer.

The often slangy and obfuscated expressions that journalists across the globe use in newsrooms fulfill a singular function: convenience and uniformity in communicating ideas and clarifying complex technical processes without having to elaborate. 

Hey, nobody said they were meant for non-journalists, as Bob Ingrassia would insist.

Even worse, our choice of words -- both verbal and in text -- are colorful and as diverse as they are capricious. For instance, the jargon newsrooms in Nagaland use are basic, limited, and generally colonial. Delhi is Desi, incoherent, and largely modified. New York’s gobbledygook are slangy, technical, and fiercely unique (‘30’, ###, ‘MF’, Graf, Wob ETC).  Likewise, a common term used in a newspaper in Nagaland could mean something else entirely in the cubicles of Bangalore Mirror. 

I have compiled a list of common, fairly universal terminologies used in the newsrooms and production desks of newspapers, broadcast, and the new media. The list is not complete. However, your chances of looking like a newbie will be far less if you were to relocate from Dimapur to New York. The reporter in the US and his counterpart in Delhi unite in this single fact though: our hoary vocabularies would make encyclopedias cringe.

One more thing:  successful journalists are avid readers. Stay updated, and you will never have to blush because you babbled an outdated term right in a room full of young industry veterans. 

In addition (that just made it another thing), the spellings may vary but I have mentioned the most common forms (US and Asia), and geographical alternatives where appropriate.  

If there are common terms you feel could be helpful but are missing from the list, please mention them in the comments section so I can add them here in the update. 

Looking for the perfect help with your industry language? There are resourceful books on Amazon that you might find helpful in case you want to keep up what the industry is 'cheesing about.' Check out Betty Kirkpatrick' Dictionary of Cliches and Richard Hartnett's Codes and Jargon of the News Business if you're interested.     

So.here is it, the insufferable Jargon from the world of journalism: 

Jargon used in Journalism: How we Cheese Argot in Newsrooms (A-G)

So here we are, a simple glossary of journalism jargon, and the things we say in 'secret' when 'shooting' a scene or show, when 'whipping' a news edition, or when 'nodding' to the nice interviewer on TV. I have explained in the introduction why we go anti-cheese on English words in our newsrooms. Here are the lot. 

Journalism Jargon A to G

Actuals or Actuality (Radio): That is the sound of something actually happening. I don’t really see the whole point to the meaning here, actually.

Backbenchers (mainly US): No, they are not your usual class backbench crew with -D grades in Mass.Comm. The term refers to senior production journalists in a newspaper

Beat (India, US, UK), Patch, or Round: A specialist area of journalism on which a reporter regularly covers or specializes. Some ‘beats’ are development, policy, police, politics, policy and governance, education, healthcare, music, fashion and entertainment etc. Example: A journalist specializing in or exclusively covers government-releated issues is a policy or political journalist. 

Blind, Non-Attributable, or Off-Record: A published interview where the interviewee is not named, e.g. ‘a senior official’. Blind also refers to conducting interviews not knowing the subject matter.

Blob: A bullet point in type, used in text layout to list points at the end of a story

Blooper, Flub, or Out-take: In broadcasting, recorded material left out of program

Bump, Bump Ahead, or Bumping: To move the position of a story, either up or down the scale of priority or position

Churnalism:  Journalism that churns out rewrites of media releases. The media in Nagaland is a good example of Churnalism. We are so lazy we don’t seek stories – survive on press releases and crowd-sourced content

Crawl: Those texts you see moving across the top or bottom of the television screen.  Used by news stations to show the main headlines of the moment, stock exchange prices, the weather or other useful current information. In other words, the eye sores.

Cub, or Rookie: That’s the term for a trainee, or entry-reporter. It is also a derogatory terms for journalists who are not conversant with industry skills, or skills relevant to his position

Dead air: An extended, unwanted silence on radio, often caused by technical or operating errors

Death-knock: This one is an intrusion, basically. It refers to an assignment in which a reporter calls at the home of a bereaved relative or friend when gathering information about a death. Some broadcasters also use the term for an unheralded phone interview Also known as door-stepping

Dinkus: A small drawing or symbol used to decorate a page, break up a block of type or identify a regular feature in a newspaper.

Doorstop, or Ambush: When a reporter or group of reporters interview someone as they leave a building, often unexpectedly.

Donut: A television interview in which the presenter hands over to a journalist on location who interviews guests before handing back to the presenter in the studio. CNN, BBC, Fox, NDTV, CNN-IBN do that

Double-ender: It refers to an interview between a presenter in the studio and a guest in a location somewhere else

Downtable sub: A sub-editor who works under the direction of more senior sub-editors

Dummy, Flatplan, or Layout: The template design of a newspaper page. Theterm also refers to the draft plan of how stories, pictures and other elements are to appear on the finished page of a newspaper or magazine.

Dump: You are in the middle of an interview, or talking to a caller on the phone and you decide to wrap up the talk. You simply ‘dump’ the call.

Editorialise: A derogatory description for writing in a highly-opinionated manner

Freesheet, sometimes derogatorily “Freeshit”: A usually cheaper publication that is circulated free with a larger publication. For instance, YoutNet’s employment journals that are distributed with copies of Nagaland Post, is Freesheet.

Gobbledygook: An extreme form of jargon that sounds as if it makes sense but is either meaningless or confusing. We journalists are goobledygookers.

Graf, or Par (mainly US): Graf is the shortened form of ‘paragraph’ of text

Gregg: A system of shorthand used mainly in the US and associated countries

Grip-and-grin, or The Big Pose (mainly US): It is a derogatory term used among photographers during events when, say, the subjects are expected to shake hands and smile at the camera as a practice

Guerrilla Marketing: That is an advertising ambush. It is a low-cost marketing technique involving the use of surprise or shock to promote a product or service. It interrupts a consumer to pay special attention (pop up ads in websites or an unscheduled product announcement in TVs are a good example).

Gutter: A vertical margin of white space where two pages meet

Gutter journalism: A derogatory term for media houses that use sensational reporting without concern for the harm it will do individuals