What journalists really mean when they say…

This week already feels 182 days long and I’m not in a flood zone, a hurricane path or a country that just had a missile fired over it. In an attempt to add a little relief for those feeling burnt to a crisp or who just need a laugh, here’s a post on the lighter side: A list of things journalists say and what they actually mean:


Recently: The reporter lost the press release

In recent memory: As far back as the reporter can remember or at least past last Tuesday.

Arguably: The reporter didn’t have time to look up the facts

Debatable: These people are clearly wrong but we need to look objective

“It has been said…” : Where the hell did I hear that from?

“Declined to comment,” : When contacted, person said, “I really want to talk but my lawyer said no. Please don’t hate me.”

“Refused to comment,” : When contacted, person acted like an ass before hanging up.

“Repeated attempts to reach the source were unsuccessful,”: That jerkweed is screening his calls.

Breaking news: We’re telling you about it at the same time everyone else is.

Gone viral: We just found out about something everyone else already knows about



Spry: Person over the age of 80 who doesn’t need portable oxygen

Feisty: Short, female.

Concerned citizens: Busybodies with nothing better to do than complain

Engaged citizens: People who lead the busybodies

An outsider: “Who the hell is this guy?”

Fake news: Anything that tells me something I don’t want to hear.

Repeatedly: (as in repeatedly declined or repeatedly defended) Person is sticking to his/her stupid position no matter how many times we ask.

Assured: Said more than once but only because the cameras were on; In reality, this won’t be happening.

 “An exciting new opportunity” or “A lifelong dream.” : The reason a public figure gives for leaving public life shortly before the lawsuits start rolling in.

“Trim the budget” : Cut stuff for other people but leave my stuff alone.

 “Devastating budget cuts” : They cut my stuff.



“All he does is win,” : His stats are bad.

“Can’t quantify his value,” : His stats are atrocious.

“A great clubhouse guy,” : He plays cards with the manager and hasn’t had an at bat since the Bush administration.

“He gave it a shot,” : A coach defied all logic and common sense and it backfired.

“He went with his gut” : A coach defied all logic and common sense and it actually worked out for him.



Fortunately, Luckily: Somebody just got royally screwed but we’re trying to put a good face on it.

“The altercation escalated” : Somebody said something about somebody’s mama.

 “Sources say,” : I attended a press conference.

“Sources tell me,” : I made a phone call.

“Sources have confirmed,” : Somebody told me that what other people already reported was right.

“Sources exclusively tell me,” : I was trapped in an elevator for an hour with a source who was bored.

“It remains unclear,” : Everyone knows something but nobody’s telling me.

Destruction: Something a fire yields

Devastation: Something a hurricane or tornado yields

“The following images are disturbing…” : Holy crap! You’ve gotta see this!

An uncertain future: The guy is going to jail

If you liked these, the book “Journalese” by Paul Dickson and Bob Skole takes on a wider array of similar terms from a variety of perspectives.

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