The jargon of journalism

When you enter journalism, you enter a world with its own language.

Granted, the old hot metal favourites of flongs, galleys and fudge no longer ring out in newsrooms – although spike still has a place.

But nibs, splash, and two-deck will mean nothing to most ‘civvies’.

It doesn’t help that different newsrooms use different words: is it puff or boost, fill or wrap, shapes or boxes?

I remember having to swiftly change my terminology when about to tell a very small work experience student that we needed her to write some shorts.

And pictures have a whole lexicon of their own.

I was once asked what shape a picture was just minutes after the job had fallen through.

“Pear,” was my reply.

But in one newsroom which I visit regularly, there is a sliding scale for picture jobs which is used to brief photographers.

It starts with one-pic for simple events, then moves through two-pic to my all-time favourite term of do-up: a page of photos.

Bigger jobs get the status of spreads, while the ultimate request is for a gallery.

This digital term approximates to around 50 pictures.

I asked the picture editor whether a gallery was now becoming an official quantity, like the traditional ale measure of a firkin.

I was told there’s a word that sounds a lot like firkin that is sometimes used when a gallery is requested.

My aim now is to get him to do a page of pictures about the band Showaddywaddy.

Go on, work it out.


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