Scoop (term)

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Scoop is an informal term used in journalism. The word connotes originality, importance, surprise or excitement, secrecy, and exclusivity.

Stories likely considered to be scoops are important news, likely to interest or concern many people. A scoop is typically a new story, or a new aspect to an existing or breaking news story. Generally the story is unexpected, or surprising, and/or a former secret. This means the scoop typically must come from an exclusive source. Events open to a multitude of witnesses generally cannot become scoops, (e.g. a natural disaster, or the announcement of a scientific breakthrough at a press conference). However, exclusive news content is not always a scoop, as it may not provide the requisite importance or excitement. An example of this may be interviews with a local resident about a local event. A scoop may be also defined retrospectively; a story may come to be known as a scoop because of a historical change in perspective of a particular event. Due to their secret nature, scandals are a prime source of scoops (e.g. the Watergate scandal by Washington Post journalists Woodward and Bernstein).

Scoop in this context may also be a verb. To scoop another journalist is to acquire a scoop-like story before the other, typically by initiative. So, to make a scoop also implies that the journalist in question is hard-working and professional. Scoops typically raise the profile of the journalist that makes them.

The word scoop is of American origin, first referenced in 1874.[1]

In some of John le Carré's spy novels, the term scoop is used for obtaining information of major strategic importance - which is, in this context, not intended for outside publication. [2]

Academia usage[edit]

The term is also used in the scientific community when one finds their current research published by another group first, thus rendering one's work redundant. This is regarded as a very undesirable outcome (hence the title of Phdcomics comic collection "Scooped"), particularly since in some cases a single paper can include years of work and can qualify the scientists for competitive prizes.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ "I have received this information from Pali, he has visited Rumania". "Rumania? For the toxic-weapons conference? That would be a scoop!" le Carré, "The Secret Pilgrim", Ch. Six., P. 140.