Journalism is serious business, but within the realm of deadlines and headlines, journalists often sprinkle their work with playful, colorful, and idiosyncratic phrases. These fun expressions add a touch of character to the profession, offering a glimpse into the quirky culture of newsrooms. In this article, I’ll explore some of these fun phrases, providing examples that showcase the lighter side of journalism.

  1. “The Muddy Middle”

Usage: “I’m stuck in the muddy middle of this article, trying to find a captivating angle.”

Journalists refer to the challenging phase of writing an article where the narrative is yet to be fully developed as “the muddy middle.”

2. “Bury the Lede” and “Lede with the Lede”

Usage: “Don’t bury the lede; put the most exciting part of the story up front.”

To “bury the lede” means obscuring the story’s most vital information. Conversely, “lede with the lede” encourages starting the article with the most exciting detail.

3. “Don’t Go to 30,000 Feet”

Usage: “Let’s not go to 30,000 feet in this piece; we need to keep it grounded.”

Journalists use this phrase to remind themselves and colleagues to avoid becoming too abstract or detached from the subject matter. Staying “at ground level” means maintaining relevance to the story’s core.

4. “SOT” and “VO/SOT”

Usage: “We have a great SOT from the interview; let’s use it in the VO/SOT package.”

SOT stands for “Sound On Tape,” referring to a recorded interview clip. “VO/SOT” means “Voice Over/Sound On Tape” and is used in broadcast journalism to indicate a segment with narration and the interviewee’s audio.

5. “TK” (To Come)

Usage: “I’m leaving this section as TK for now; I’ll fill in the details later.”

Journalists employ “TK” as a placeholder for information that is missing or under development. It’s a reminder to complete the content.

6. “Rusty Spike”

Usage: “We hit a rusty spike in the system when the website crashed during the live stream.”

A “rusty spike” refers to a sudden and unexpected technical glitch or problem, often occurring during live broadcasts or online streaming.

7. “J-School”

Usage: “I learned this interviewing technique back in J-school.”

“J-School” is a casual term for journalism school, where aspiring journalists acquire their skills, knowledge, and industry know-how.

8. “Bleed on the Page”

Usage: “Sometimes, you have to let your emotions bleed on the page for a powerful story.”

This phrase encourages writers to pour their heart and soul into their work, injecting personal emotions and experiences into the narrative for added impact.

9. “Stick a Fork In It; It’s Done”:

Usage: “I just submitted the final draft; stick a fork in it; it’s done.”

“Stick a fork in it” is a humorous way to signal that a task is completed or a story is ready for publication.

Journalism is a profession that demands a unique blend of precision, objectivity, and creativity. Amid the deadlines and breaking news, journalists use fun phrases to lighten the mood, simplify complex concepts, and infuse a bit of humor into their work. 

These expressions offer a glimpse into the culture of newsrooms, where seriousness is balanced with camaraderie and a touch of playfulness. 

While the work of journalism is often challenging and demanding, these fun phrases serve as reminders that even in the most serious of professions, there’s always room for a bit of levity and creative expression.

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