On the TribLive website (of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) on August 30th: “Book strives to make journalese crystal clear” by Rob Kyff, about:

journalese — a bland paste of buzzwords, jargon and overused words served up by newspapers, TV stations and websites every day.

Veteran writers Paul Dickson and Robert Skole have collected and defined hundreds of journalistic cliches in their new book “Journalese: A Dictionary for Deciphering the News” (Marion Street Press, $14.95). We read and hear these terms all the time, of course, but “eyeballing” this “laundry list” provides us with “growing evidence” of a “widespread problem.”

As they tell it, Dickson and Skole are out neither to stamp out journalese nor to celebrate it, but merely to document it — though the book veers between extreme attitudes about formulaic language in the media, sometimes mocking it, sometimes noting its utility.

In today’s news stories, Dickson and Skole write, “Temperatures still soar. Costs still skyrocket. Tornadoes still cut swaths, leaving rescue workers to sift through the rubble and survivors looking for answers.”

What crime story, for instance, is complete without a gangland-style murder, hail of bullets, checkered past, brush with the law, hush money, high-speed chase, drug deal gone bad or shallow grave in a densely wooded area?

On the business page, banks are always financially troubled, markets take nosedives, price tags are jaw-dropping, events send shock waves and market solutions produce credit crunches and red ink.

Perhaps most disturbing are the weaselly phrases reporters use as innuendo: “rumors persist,” “some observers say,” “this has raised questions,” “widely considered,” “this could be seen as,” “cannot be ruled out,” “in what could be.” And then there are the interview classics: “How would you respond to those who say …?” and “Help us to understand …”

But, as Dickson and Skole point out, journalese does furnish reporters with a convenient shorthand that allows them to convey drama and a point of view. When it comes to journalese, “there are no easy answers,” and “it’s not going away anytime soon.”

So it’s complicated: journalese provides a register that makes communication quick and easy between writer and reader, but it also shortcuts complex thoughts.

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