Grim's Tales: A crash course in newspaper jargon

Travis Grimler - Grim's Tales.jpg
Travis Grimler, PineandLakes Echo Journal Writer

It occurs to me occasionally that my profession comes with its own experiences and jargon I can't expect our readers to understand without explanation.

Like any profession, we had to make up words that, though they seem simple, have a lot deeper meaning to those who use them on a day-to-day basis. I decided to define some of the more familiar terms so our readers can get a deeper understanding of what they mean, not only based on how a dictionary would define them, but instead as a staff writer understands them.*

Deadline: Something which motivates sources to call you back or send you that photo they have been putting off for the last week.

Editor: The title staff writers evoke instead of telling persistent callers, “I don't know” or “no."

Lede: The first paragraph in any story. The only paragraph that isn't an iambic pentameter poem about our dogs because, let's be honest, this is the only paragraph anyone reads.


Election night: A 20-hour long pizza party that all reporters are mandated to attend long after they want to go home.

Bylines: A worthless currency news staff accept in lieu of higher pay (because they don't really have any other choice).

Press release: An item that arrives by the hundreds but only while staff is trying to write their own stories or if the newspaper is literally in the process of printing.

Submitted photo: A cell phone image that would print blurry the size of a stamp, but the only size the sender knows how to send.

Young newspaper audience: A myth created to keep staff writers from panicking about their career choice.

Headline: A chance for the writers to be witty against their better judgement or try out new puns.

Expendable income: No definition found.

Beat: A life sentence covering the same subject forever. Punishment for a job well done.


Off the record: A statement a source makes before saying something so irrelevant you never intended to print it in the first place.

Above the fold: The newspaper equivalent of being “King of the hill."

No news day: A bad omen. A day that will start out boring but end with a big tragedy of some sort after everyone has clocked out.

Caption: Two lines of print below a photo that include almost enough information to steal the subject's identity.

Correction: The bane of a writer’s existence. Will make any writer sick to their stomach and question their existence.

Freelancer: An entity without which some writers would never see their families.

Hard news: Impactful, often negative, news that readers complain about.

Soft news: News stories on lighter, often positive, subject matter that the above readers demand, but refuse to read.


Public notice: Everything anyone wants to know about their local government, printed in the newspaper but read by nobody.

News hole: The place to shove all the information you gathered throughout the week.

*The above definitions are not to be taken seriously. PineandLakes Echo Journal and Travis Grimler cannot be held responsible for anyone who decides to take these terms seriously.

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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