Dec 19, 2017

‘Boffin’, ‘fracas’ and other words that only journos use

Been involved in an imbroglio lately? Didn't think so.

Emily Watkins — Media reporter

Emily Watkins

Media reporter

There’s a particular language that journalists use in writing their articles and scripts. Reporters are usually pretty direct, they use particular monikers. Sometimes they use jargon, sometimes they fall back on cliches. And then there’s a whole particular suite of words and phrases that have been almost entirely wiped from English speakers’ vocabularies, apart from journalists’. Here are some of Crikey‘s favourites:

A blow

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29 thoughts on “‘Boffin’, ‘fracas’ and other words that only journos use

  1. Robert Smith

    How about “disgraced”. I have often wondered how journalists decide it applies to a person.

  2. PG

    A couple more Emily. (1) If someone of note’s erotic adventures are exposed, say, by a hidden camera, the illicit activity is invariably described by journos as a “sex romp”.
    (2) When a small country town becomes the site of a tragedy, the grieving locals are always referred to as a “close-knit community” who “close ranks”, (even if they are usually at each others throats.)

    1. Woopwoop

      After all, the small community is in mourning!

  3. PG

    And “melee” – who apart from sports journalists ever uses this word?

  4. John McCombe

    So glad to see “probe”. A long time favourite headline word, but never seen elsewhere. Well maybe, rarely, in medicine.

  5. Roger Clifton

    I am grateful that our journalists deploy so little of English’s redundant vocabulary. Crikey’s journos in particular write essays in plain English that frequently supply readers with a nifty turn of phrase in words that all of us can understand.

    However, I want them to stamp out the concept of “n+1th century”. This is historian’s jargon! We want to know which hundred years contain the date in question, but we should not have to do arithmetic to find out which hundred years are being referred to. Just as you and I were born sometime “in the nineteen-hundreds”, youngsters today need only hear that they were born “in the twenty-hundreds”.

    1. AR

      Dodger – be fair, those sort of people probably thought/still think, that the year 2000 was the start of the New Millennium.

  6. Mr Denmore

    A few more:
    1. When a disaster occurs and there’s no new information those affected are inevitably described as “struggling to come to terms with” whatever happened.
    2. When one politician disagrees with another, it won’t do to just say that so we hear that “a war of words has broken out”.
    3. There’s a lot of “mounting” in the media. “Fears are mounting”, “Opposition is mounting”, “Calls are mounting” (this usually happens when more than one person says something similar). If three people say it, the lead becomes “Calls are intensifying”
    4. Public figures in the news never criticise, they “hit out” or “slam”. Every exercise of power is a “crackdown”; every mild surprise is a “bombshell”; every remotely pressing task involves a “race against time”.

  7. EdoaurdE

    You forgot ‘game changer’ and ‘moving forward’

    1. Damian

      Shortly after Gillard’s speech, I was at a bus interchange and towards the time that the bus was due, I thought to myself, “It’s time to move forward”. I would have happily beaten myself up.

  8. Peter Adams

    Nice list folks… but consider also ‘tyro’.
    I have never seen or heard the word ‘tyro’ used anywhere else but in the sport section of newspapers… not even in TV or radio news! (Which I worked in for 25 years)

  9. AR

    I admit to using several of these during my quotidian existence but I’m glad to see SLAMMED, which I never, ever have expectorated.
    Nor would.
    I’m a bit disturbed by all the ‘mounting’ mentioned by Mr Denmore.
    Never mind ZPG – NPG!

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