Journalese

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Journalese is the artificial or hyperbolic, and sometimes over-abbreviated, language regarded as characteristic of the popular media. Joe Grimm, formerly of the Detroit Free Press, likened journalese to a "stage voice": "We write journalese out of habit, sometimes from misguided training, and to sound urgent, authoritative and, well, journalistic. But it doesn't do any of that."

Examples[edit]

  • "The governor Thursday announced ..." (date used as adverb)
  • "The Nov. 22, 1963, assassination of John F. Kennedy ..." (date used as adjective)
  • "Mean streets and densely wooded areas populated by ever-present lone gunmen ..."
  • "Negotiators yesterday, in an eleventh-hour decision following marathon talks, hammered out agreement on a key wage provision they earlier had rejected."
  • See "a bus plunged into a gorge" for a common type of gap-filler article.
    "Calls this morning for tighter restrictions on the sale of alcohol to immigrants."
  • "Whoosh … whoosh … whoosh … ka-boooom. That’s the way it was at Wanganui's Cooks Gardens, for about 15 minutes on Saturday night." (genitive of placename instead of preposition)
  • "Rioting and mayhem ..." (this example has led to popular misunderstanding causing the word "mayhem" to change its main meaning.)
  • "Attack" to mean "criticise", because it typesets into less space in headlines. This may cause ambiguity if a physical or military attack is possible between the parties named. "Slam" is also used this way, as is, increasingly, "blast".
  • "Foes ink pact", "Cops nab crooks after heist", "The new station is slated to open...." (rare or archaic words chosen over more commonly used words in order to save space)
  • "The 1990s saw an increase in crime...." instead of the simpler "Crime increased in the 1990s...." (the use of "saw" to avoid using the past tense of "increase")

Copy editors are sometimes afflicted by headlinese.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]