My husband sometimes is amused when I talk in journalism lingo. He especially laughs at how we spell things, such as “lede” for the lead paragraph for a story.
I know, I know! Journalists are such spelling sticklers, so it’s awfully silly how we spell things in our own newsrooms.
But each newsroom is different, so I still thought it would be fun to share some of the terms we use at my newspaper:
- Lede: The introductory paragraph of an article.
- Graf: Short for “paragraph.”
- Nutgraf: This paragraph gets to the heart of the matter in your story, often summarizing the big picture for the reader. (My guess is this might be related to the term, “in a nutshell,” as if the writer is telling the whole story in a nutshell in this particular graf. Just my guess!)
- Hed: Headline.
- Cut: Short for “cutline,” which most people would call a caption.
- Wild art: This is stand-alone art, almost inevitably accompanied by an extended cutline that includes the weather forecast. Almost always the wild art is actually “weather art” — images that convey the weather, such as kids splashing in the pool on a hot day or cars plowing through standing water on a rainy day. At my college newspaper, we called this “feature art.”
- Budget: A quick summary of a story in the works. Also refers to the master list of stories in the works. I have to file a budget so my editors know about my story and can make the wise decision to put it in the front page lineup.
- Slug: The filename you give to your story.
- Folo: A follow-up story. The slug on a follow-up story after a fire might be “FIREFOLO.”
- Refer: Pronounced “reefer,” this is the little box on a story that suggests you flip to page A12 for more pictures of the fire. Or the refer might tell you to go online for a video about the fire.
- CQ: Reporters put this in their stories (in note form, so they don’t actually print) to show that they checked each spelling, dollar amount, phone number or other tricky fact. This also is a verb, as in an editor asking a reporter, “Did you CQ all the names in your story?”
OK, journalist friends, I’d love to have you share some of your own favorite journalism terms, especially for my non-journalist readers.
And for my non-journalist friends, have you heard weird news terms that don’t make sense? Share them as a comment and perhaps I can answer.