Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 04:23:17 -0700
From: Crissie Trigger crissiet[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IX.NETCOM.COM
Subject: Re: newspaper lingo
from crissiet[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ix.netcom.com (SETH SKLAREY)
Some interesting stuff from the BONG Bulletin
Copyright (c) 1996 by BONG. All rights reserved.
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Stephen G. Bloom, ex of Los Angeles Times and
Dallas Morning News now professing journalism at the University of
Iowa, did a dandy piece for The American Editor on newsroom
jargon. Yes, "30" translates from telegraphic code XXX, meaning
the end. Stringers were paid by story length, measured by a
string at the editor's desk.
PI (pronounced pee eye), lede, hed, graf, folo and TK are
deliberate misspellings so they won't get into print. Lede is
copy, lead is metal. Bloom didn't mention it, but even now old-
timers are edgy about using "lead" unless it's a story about
leading a band or a drill team. Wood is the big headline, often so
big that wooden type was used.
Cereal spitter was a gory photo, especially for ayem papers'
breakfast readers. Bloom suggests that some editors now use what
they call the "Wheaties test," not to cull boring shots but to
encourage something called good taste. It's the clearest proof
that times have changed.
Spike was the nail where bad stories went. Slug is a story's
name, originally cast in a line of Linotype metal. Lobster shift,
describing the overnighters, has a varied etymology. Bloom says
morning is lobster-catching time, bad lighting makes for red eyes.
The tale of Hearst's New York World being near the lobster boat
piers and both kinds of crews going to work simultaneously isn't
mentioned. Lob shift is a term virtually unknown outside
newspapering. Lobstermen don't even use it. Maybe they say
Grumpy printers with red noses from drinking on their way to work
The world's foremost expert in newsroom atmosphere, BONG Chief
Copyboy Charley Stough, Dayton Daily News, 45 S. Ludlow St.,
Dayton, Ohio 45401 tosses a rose to NYTNS bloodhounds worldwide.
E-mail copyboy[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]dma.org. Phone (513) 225-2445 after 3 p.m.
eastern. Fax 225-2489.