A press avail

In yesterday’s NYT, this report on Mitt Romney in Tampa FL:

“Is there a reason you’re not responding to reporters’ questions?” called out a reporter.

“Yeah, there’s not a press avail today — this is a chance to meet people,” explained Mr. Romney, who has previously made a similar distinction. (There is a time for answering questions, he has said, and a time for talking to voters, and those times do not seem to overlap).

I hadn’t noticed a press avail before, but it seems to have been around for 20 years or so.

There’s even a Wiktionary entry:

Shortening of press availability, itself a shortening of “press availability session.” First recorded in early 1990s.

(US, politics, journalism) An open-ended question and answer session with the media.

with this Philadelphia Inquirer occurrence from 4/18/92 (Craig R. McCoy, “A Campaign Juggernaut Jaunts Through Phila.”):

“There won’t be a press avail,” she explained briskly about Clinton’s first stop at – where else – the Italian Market. “It’ll basically be a photo op.” (link)

Plenty of examples, especially in headlines, where its brevity is advantageous:

Secretary Clinton and EU High Rep. Ashton Hold a Press Avail in Brussels (link)

State police brass to hold a press avail this afternoon (link)

The text for the first of these has the intermediate stage, the compound press availability:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a press availability with European Union Foreign and Security Affairs Chiefs Catherine Ashton, encouraging the economically affluent citizens of Pakistan to do more to support their government is dealing with the country’s disasters following the summer floods

Two steps: the truncation of press availability session to press availability, and the the clipping of availability to avail. Shorter, shorter, ever shorter. Maybe a press av is on its way.


3 Responses to “A press avail”

  1. Marc Leavitt Says:

    I’ve noticed that clipping seems to be on the up-tick. That’s my totally unscientific observation. One example I hear all the time is Ave” for avenue. Of course, we have “fail.” I’m sure lots more are on the way. If “brevity is the soul of wit,” then English is becoming witty indeed.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      It’s always hard to know whether someone’s impression that a phenomenon is on the increase is an accurate perception of rising frequency or just an effect of increased attention. The case of clipping is particularly hard to study because so many clippings (like ad or advert for advertisement) have become standard.

      Ave for Avenue has been around for a long time (when I lived in Cambridge MA almost 50 years ago, Massachusetts Avenue was almost always referred to as Mass. Ave.). It’s not directly a clipping in pronunciation, but rather a pronunciation of the orthographic abbreviation.

      Fail is usually treated as a nouning of the verb fail rather than as a clipping of failure. (It’s often paired with the nouning win.) Some discussion here.

  2. rjp Says:

    Pretty soon you’ll end up with “Press A” which people will get confused with “Presser” and that’ll be doubly confusing since it’ll actually be not too far wrong (if I’m right in what I think a “presser” is.)

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