The Morbid Language of Newspapers

BoingBoing has a short but sweet post (the comments are worth reading too), sent to me by harrisj and mentioned on Wordie by VanishedOne, about the death-tinged tone of journalism jargon. Beat, kill (sometimes for a fee), morgue, widow, orphan, slug, bullet. I’m guessing this stems more from the sometimes bleak nature of what journalists cover than the overwhelmingly bleak current state of the industry—these are old terms, after all. They might also have roots in the noirish self-image a lot of newspaper people have of themselves: secretly every jschool grad from the ‘burbs wishes he or she was Bogart in “Deadline U.S.A.

Some other good journalism lists on Wordie: newspaper names*, this one of tabloid phrases, and my own short list of tabloid headlines, which could use a shot in the arm**.

* Consistently the most common source of search traffic to the site.
** It’s an open list, so feel free.

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