Newsrooms are bustling hives of activity, where journalists work diligently to report the latest stories. However, the language used in newsrooms is a world of its own. In this article, I’ll explore the unique lexicon and phrases commonly found in newsrooms, shedding light on the inner workings of journalism, and providing examples to illustrate their usage.

  1. “Lead” and “Lede”

Usage: “I need to write a strong lead for the front-page story.”

In the newsroom, “lead” or “lede” (an alternative spelling) refers to the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article. It should capture the essence of the story and entice readers to continue.

2. “Above the Fold”

Usage: “We need to make sure the most important news is above the fold in the print edition.”

In the print newspaper world, “above the fold” indicates content positioned on the top half of the front page, as this is the part most visible to readers when the paper is folded.

3. “Byline”

Usage: “Did you see Sarah’s byline on the sports section? She covered the big game last night.”

A “byline” is the writer’s name, often accompanied by a brief bio, at the beginning or end of an article, signaling who wrote the piece.

4. “Masthead” and “Flag”

Usage: “Our editor rearranged the masthead and gave the paper a fresh flag design.”

The “masthead” is the banner on the newspaper’s front page that displays the publication’s name and logo. The “flag” is the nameplate of the newspaper, usually found at the top.

5. “Copy” and “Copy Editor”

Usage: “The copy editor is checking the copy for errors before it goes to print.”

“Copy” refers to the text or content of a news article. A “copy editor” is responsible for proofreading, fact-checking, and editing the copy.

6. “Wire Services” and “The Wire”

Usage: “We rely on wire services like AP and Reuters for international news.”

Wire services are news agencies that provide articles, photos, and videos to newspapers. “The wire” refers to the collection of stories, often from wire services, that editors can select for publication.

7. “Nut Graph”

Usage: “The nut graph should explain why this story matters to our readers.”

The “nut graph” is a paragraph in the article that outlines the story’s central point, significance, and relevance to the audience.

8. “Off the Record” and “On Background”

Usage: “The source spoke off the record, so we can’t attribute the information to them.”

When information is “off the record,” it means the source does not want their name attached to it. “On background” suggests that the information can be used but not attributed directly to the source, often described as coming from an unnamed “official.”

9. “Bury the Lede”

Usage: “Don’t bury the lede; put the most important information up front.”

To “bury the lede” means to hide the most significant part of the story within the text instead of featuring it prominently in the beginning.

The language of the newsroom is a unique blend of journalistic jargon that journalists and editors use daily to navigate their work. It reflects the fast-paced, dynamic, and ever-evolving nature of the media industry. Understanding these terms and phrases offers insight into the intricacies of journalism and the techniques used to engage, inform, and captivate readers in an ever-changing news landscape.

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