Phrase Book and Lexicon of American Journalism (Or, Ambrose Bierce Wasn’t Even Half Cynical Enough)

There is growing anxiety, distrust, even hatred of the American news media. This is the result of common misconceptions of their purpose and misunderstandings of their unique vocabulary. Once you understand these eleven terms and internalize them, then you can appreciate a variety of news sources for the art form they represent.

Common Phrases

“Anonymous sources have confirmed…”
Translation- What I am about to say is such a bald face lie that even the most partisan political hack refuses to be associated with it.

“If this is true.. “
Translation- I don’t have a clue what I am talking about so let’s just play ‘let’s pretend ‘

“We stand by our reporting…”
Translation- If you are dumb enough to still be listening to me then tune in tomorrow for more.


Anonymous source – literary device; fictional character used to advance the narrative

Bombshell report – term used to identify stories that will be retracted, deleted, or otherwise rendered irrelevant within 24 hours. So named because of their uniquely predictable tendency to blow up in the face of the editor

Editor – censor

Investigative reporter– a journalist who selects an individual or group and then searches for a crime which might plausibly be associated with them

Journalist – a reporter reporting what other reporters report that another reporter has reported

Factcheckersyn: magician, wizzard, alchemist. One gifted in the art of transforming an incontrovertible lie into an uncontestable truth through the incantation of many words.

News source – any media (print, electronic, or digital) which is devoted primarily to preventing the dissemination of information. Usually an auxiliary agency of a political party or subsidiary of a corporation.

Trusted source – a person whose malevolence closely matches that of the editor

(United Methodist readers may want to refer to The Bishops ‘ Dictionary)

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