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absolute privilege
The right of legislators, judges and other public officials to speak without threat of libel when carrying out their duties.

actuality (also called a cut, sound bite or bite)
The recorded voice of someone in the news, or sound from a news event. Actualities include statements from public officials, interviews with eyewitnesses, comments from experts—even the shouts of an angry mob.

actual malice
Reckless disregard of the truth; printing something you know to be false. This is a condition that must be proven in libel cases filed by public figures or public officials.

An advertisement.

A story explaining an upcoming meeting or event.

Part advertising, part editorial; an advertisement section in a publication that contains stories and photos.

advocacy journalism
A type of reporting in which journalists take sides in a controversial issue, promoting a particular point of view.

Small type used for sports statistics, stock tables, classified ads, etc.

The person who reads the news during a newscast and provides transitions between stories.

anecdotal lead
A humorous, dramatic or revealing incident that's used to begin a story.

A brief recounting of an entertaining or informative incident within a story.

The focus, emphasis or "slant" of a story; a distinctive way of viewing and writing about a topic.

The Associated Press, a worldwide news-gathering cooperative.

Designation by an editor for a reporter or photographer to cover an event.

Identify the source of a fact, opinion or quote.

The written phrase that identifies the source of a fact, opinion or quote in a story.

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B copy
A section of a story that's written ahead of time for an event that will occur close to deadline.

B-roll (or cover)
Video images shot at a news scene that are later used to illustrate (or cover) a sound bite or reporter's track that was recorded separately.

Information gathered by reporters to help them understand a story's history, meaning, context, etc. Also refers to quotes or facts that can be used in a story without disclosing the source's name.

A story that explains the basics of an issue or event. Also refers to an interview in which a source provides information, though not necessarily for publication.

The area or subject that a reporter is responsible for covering. A beat can be a topic (crime), an institution (the state legislature) or a location (Lincoln County).

Unfairly favoring one side over another when writing a story.

A Web log; an online journal providing commentary and/or links to related Web sites.

Someone who writes a blog.

The interconnected community of blogs and bloggers who post comments and link to each other's blogs.

Newsroom slang for the crime reports that summarize facts about local arrests.

To publish an important or dramatic story for the first time. To cover breaking news is to report on an event still in progress.

A short news story.

brite (or bright)
A short, amusing news story.

Sending information to many destinations simultaneously via radio, television or computer network.

A full-size newspaper, measuring roughly 14 by 23 inches. Most dailies (The New York Times, USA Today) are broadsheets. If you fold a broadsheet in half, it becomes a tabloid.

A roundup of stories by each department of a newsroom (news, sports, business, etc.), which is then discussed at news meetings as editors plan coverage.

A software program (such as Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) that enables you to view Web pages.

A type of dingbat, usually a big dot (l), used to highlight items listed in the text.

To delay or relocate a story.

A news-gathering office separate from the main newsroom. A major newspaper, for instance, might have bureaus at the state capital, in Washington, D.C., and in foreign countries.

The reporter's name, usually printed at the beginning of a story.

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A sentence or block of type providing descriptive information about a photo; used interchangeably with cutline.

change of venue
Transferring a court proceeding to another jurisdiction after the prosecution or defense claims that potential jurors have been prejudiced by local media coverage.

A story clipped from a newspaper.

closed-ended question
A direct question intended to elicit a yes-or-no answer ("Should the president be impeached?") as opposed to an open-ended question intended to encourage a lengthy answer.

Giving a story color means adding description or human interest; coloring a story means slanting it unfairly by adding bias.

Advice or commentary by a columnist writing in a distinctive style on a consistent topic (sports, music, current events).

column inch
A way to measure the depth of a story; it's text that, when printed, is 1 inch long and one column wide.

column logo
A graphic device that labels regularly appearing material by packaging the writer's name, the column's name and a small mug or drawing of the writer.

conflict of interest
A situation where a journalist's personal interests (family, friends, finances, etc.) affect the coverage of a story.

Combining a variety of media (text, images, audio, video) to cover a story.

The text of a story.

copy desk
The newsroom department responsible for editing stories, writing headlines and designing pages.

copy editor
A newsroom staffer who edits stories and writes headlines.

The legal protection given to authors preventing others from copying or selling their work.

A reporter who files stories from outside the newsroom— usually someone assigned to cover events in another city, state or country.

To gather news about an event.

A phrase inserted into a story (but not printed), usually following a phone number or a peculiar spelling, to advise copy editors that "this information has been checked." Example: Police arrested a construction worker named Vladimir Schroughmfk (cq).

The public's perception of the reliability of a reporter or news outlet.

A campaign by a news outlet to bring about reform or encourage government action.

A rookie or trainee reporter.

To delete part of a story.

A sentence or block of type providing descriptive information about a photo; also called a caption.

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A newspaper that prints a new edition every day.

Words appearing at the start of the first paragraph of a story that identify where the story was filed.

The time by which a reporter must finish a story.

A small headline running below the main headline; also called a drop head.

deep background
Information that may be used in a story but cannot be attributed in any way, in order to protect the source's identity.

delayed identification lead
A type of news lead that withholds a significant piece of information—usually a person's name—until the second paragraph.

developing story
A story in progress; an event or situation that will require additional time to unfold.

The use of quotes to re-create a conversation between two or more people.

To question or investigate in depth.

Decorative type characters (nul H) used for lists or graphic emphasis.

An early version of a story, before it's rewritten and polished for publication.

A small, detailed page diagram showing where all elements (text, photos, headlines, etc.) go.

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A person who assigns, approves or corrects stories for publication or broadcast.

Commentary that expresses opinion about a current event or issue (usually the opinion of an editor, publisher or owner); the department of the newspaper that gathers, writes, edits and publishes news.

To inject the reporter's opinion inappropriately into a news story or headline.

A restriction placed on a news story or press release that specifies when the information can be made public.

enterprise story
An article or project that's more creative, original and ambitious than typical news stories.

A story reported by only one news outlet; a scoop.

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fact sheet
A page distributed by public relations practitioners highlighting key data about a product, project or event.

fair comment and criticism
The right of journalists to print their opinions on the performance of public figures or entertainers. Such criticism is legally protected as long as writers do not falsify facts.

A non-breaking-news story on people, trends or issues. A feature story isn't necessarily related to a current event; it appeals to readers because of its topic, angle or writing style.

The name of a newspaper as it's displayed on Page One; also called a nameplate.

follow or follow-up
A story supplying additional details about an event that's been previously covered.

A typeface.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
A 1966 law requiring federal agencies to make most of their records available to the public upon request.

A self-employed writer who sells stories to publications.

futures file
A collection of clips, press releases, notes and story ideas, arranged by date, to remind editors of upcoming stories to assign.

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general assignment
Where a reporter covers a wide range of stories rather than focusing on a specific beat.

An attention-getting lead.

Short for "paragraph."

The space running vertically between two columns.

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See news release.

hard news
Factual coverage of serious events (crime, accidents, speeches, government action). Soft news, on the other hand, refers to lighter, less urgent feature stories.

A special label for any regularly appearing section, page or story; also called a standing head.

Large type running above or beside a story to summarize its content; also called a head, for short. Headlines are usually written by copy editors, but occasionally by reporters.

The term used for counting the number of visitors to a Web page. (Technically, it refers to the number of elements on each Web page; accessing a page with text and three images would count as four hits.)

home page
The main page of a Web site, providing links to the rest of the site.

An unanswered question in a story; a significant missing fact that's identified when a story is edited.

human-interest story
A feature that provides drama or emotional impact for readers.

home page
The main page of a Web site, providing links to the rest of the site.

HyperText Markup Language, the coding used to format and display Web pages.

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immediate identification lead
A lead in which the "who" is identified by name, usually because the person is recognizable to most readers (as opposed to a delayed identification lead).

in-cue (IQ)
The first words of a cut or wrap.

information graphic
Any map, chart or diagram used to analyze an event, object or place. (called an "infographic" for short).

intro (or anchor intro)
The lead to a reporter's wrap, read by an anchor.

invasion of privacy
Violating the right of an ordinary person to be left alone—to stay out of the news.

inverted pyramid
A news story structure that presents the most important facts first; the rest of the information is organized in descending order of importance.

investigative journalism
Reporting that requires extensive research to uncover information on misconduct or corruption that has been concealed from the public.

Type that slants to the right, like this.

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Specialized technical or bureaucratic language that's often confusing or meaningless to ordinary readers.

Tired clichés that are recycled by lazy reporters (solons hammered out a last-minute agreement in a marathon 11th-hour session.)

The business and craft of producing content for the news media.

To continue a story on another page; text that's been continued on another page is called the jump.

Aligning lines of text so they're even along both the right and left margins.

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An ending that concludes a story in a clever way: a surprise, a punchline or a memorable quote.

To delete (or refuse to run) a story, or something within a story.

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The placement of art and text on a page; to lay out a page is to design it.

The first sentence or paragraph of a story. It's pronounced lede (and journalists often spell it that way, too).

Words that introduce some element in a broadcast news story.

leading questions
Questions intended to steer an interviewee in a particular direction.

lead story
The story deserving the biggest headline and best display on Page One, or at the start of a newscast.

Publishing or broadcasting a false statement that maliciously or carelessly damages someone's reputation.

liftout quote
A graphic treatment of a quotation taken from a story, often using bold or italic type and a photo. Also called a pull quote.

A clickable word or image on a Web page that directs you to another page or site.

Not prerecorded; usually refers to stories filed from a news scene.

Providing a community angle on a national story by discussing its connection to local people, issues or events.

A word or name that's stylized in a graphic way; used to refer to standing heads and column labels in a newspaper.

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A staffer who works with reporters, editors, photographers and designers to plan and create special treatments for stories.

A block of information, including staff names and publication data, often printed on the editorial page.

media kit
A package of information about a product, group or event, often containing background information, photos, news releases and so on.

The middle number or halfway point in a series of numbers arranged by size; it's used whenever calculating an average would be confusing or misleading. In the series 1, 2, 4, 11, 13, the median—the middle number in the series—is 4.

A news library, where published stories and photos are stored for reference.

mug shot
A small photo showing a person's face.

Presenting information using more than one medium, combining text, graphics, audio and video.

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A storytelling style where events unfold chronologically.

narrative lead
A lead that begins a story by placing readers in the middle of the action.

natural sound (or ambient sound)
In radio or TV new stories, sounds recorded to capture the flavor of a news scene— birds singing, crowds cheering, planes landing.

news conference
An interview session where someone fields questions from a group of reporters; also called a press conference.

news director
The top news executive in a television newsroom, responsible for news content, budget decisions, hiring and firing staff, etc.

news release
Information sent out by a group or individual seeking publicity; also called a press release or handout.

nut graph (or nut graf)
An explanatory paragraph near the top of the story that summarizes what the story is about—or tells readers why they should care.

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Short for obituary, a story about someone who has died.

off the record
An agreement by a reporter and a source specifying that information revealed in an interview cannot be printed in any form.

op-ed page
The page opposite a newspaper's editorial page, usually reserved for columns and letters to the editor.

open-ended question
A question phrased in a way that encourages a source time to give a lengthy, in-depth answer ("Why do you think the president should be impeached?")—as opposed to a closed-ended question designed to elicit a yes-or-no answer.

open-meeting laws
State and federal laws that guarantee public (and press) access to meetings of government bodies.

open-record laws
State and federal laws guaranteeing public (and press) access to most government records.

out-cue (OQ)
The final words of a cut or wrap.

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A story that uses multiple points of entry (text, sidebars, graphics, photos, etc.) to make complex topics more accessible to readers; also, a story that's prepared by a TV news reporter, usually taped, featuring the reporter's narration, one or more sound bites, and often a stand-up.

To lengthen a story by adding unnecessary material, usually so it fits a predetermined length.

To design a page on a computer.

An indirect quote that summarizes, in your own words, what someone else said.

partial quotation
A section or fragment of a longer quote that you insert into another sentence: The answer, as Dylan once sang, is "blowin' in the wind."

Passing off someone else's words or ideas as your own.

The emphasis given to a story or an element within a story. News can be "played up" (emphasized) or "played down" (de-emphasized).

An audio version of a news story made available for downloading on a Web site.

A group of reporters and photographers selected to cover a story where access is limited; their reports and photographs are then shared with other media outlets.

press box
The section of a sports arena or stadium reserved for reporters covering the event.

press conference
An interview session where someone answers questions from a group of reporters; also called a news conference.

press release
Information sent out by a group or individual seeking publicity; also called a news release or handout.

A journalistic defense against libel that allows reporters to print what's said in legislative or judicial proceedings (fair report privilege), to express opinions (opinion privilege), or to review public performances (fair comment and criticism).

A feature story that uses interviews and observations to paint a picture of someone newsworthy.

A device that projects a news script in front of the camera lens for an anchor to read. (TelePrompTer is a well- known brand name.)

public figure
In libel cases, a person who has acquired fame or notoriety (a performer or athlete, for example) or has participated in some public controversy (a protester or social activist).

public official
In libel cases, someone who exercises power or influence in governmental affairs (a police officer, mayor or school superintendent, for example).

public relations
The skills and tactics used to convey information and maintain a positive public image about a person, product, event or organization.

The top-ranking executive of a newspaper, who oversees all departments (editorial, advertising, circulation, etc.).

puff piece
A flattering story written to provide gratuitous publicity.

Pulitzer Prize
The most prestigious award in journalism, established by publisher Joseph Pulitzer at Columbia University.

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Q and A
An interview printed in question-and-answer form.

quote (n.)
The exact words spoken by a source; (v.) to print a source's exact words inside quotation marks.

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The estimated number of readers who view a publication (as opposed to circulation, which is the number of copies distributed).

A person who gathers and writes news stories for publication or broadcast.

running story
A story that is continuing to unfold, necessitating follow-up stories as events develop.

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scoop (n.)
An exclusive story no other news outlet has; (v.) to beat the competition to a juicy story.

The written version of a radio news story.

second-day story
A "follow-up" story that provides additional details about an event that was previously covered.

Activities or writings that incite resistance or hostility toward the government.

Two or more stories on the same topic, usually published in a scheduled sequence.

shield laws
Statutes that give journalists the right to protect the identity of sources when questioned during judicial proceedings.

A small story, graphic or chart accompanying a bigger story on the same topic.

Defamation by the spoken word. (Defamation by the printed word is libel.)

A series of photos and captions—often incorporating audio commentary—that illustrates a topic or event on a Web site.

The name given to a story for newsroom use.

soft news
Stories that are lighter and less urgent than serious breaking news events.

SOT, sound-on-tape
A recorded sound bite (usually audio and video) played during a TV news story.

sound bite
A recorded comment from a news source (usually audio and video).

Records or people providing journalists with information. (The term usually refers to people).

To kill or withhold a story from publication.

The slanting of information by a source, usually in an attempt to make someone look good.

A shot of a reporter at a news scene reporting a story.

spot news
A timely event covered by journalists as it happens.

A story layout designed across two facing pages.

Someone who works for a news organization: a reporter, editor, photographer, etc.

A proofreading comment that means "leave it—ignore any editing notations."

The word journalists use to refer to a published article.

A part-time correspondent who is not a regular newsroom employee but gets paid by the story.

A writer's unique blend of syntax, vocabulary and perspective that gives his or her writing its characteristic personality; also, a news organization's rules for punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, etc.

A compilation of newsroom rules for punctuation, capitalization, abbreviation, etc., with guidelines on everything from handling profanity to recording sports scores.

Lines of type, often bold, used to divide text into smaller sections.

suitcase lead
An excessively long lead that's overstuffed with facts, like a bulging suitcase.

summary lead
A news lead that summarizes the most significant of the five W's (who, what, when, where, why).

syndicated columnist
A writer whose commentary is sold and distributed by a news organization for reprinting in other publications.

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A newspaper format that's roughly half the size of a standard (broadsheet) page; also, a derogatory term for a type of sleazy, sensational journalism (made infamous by tabloid- sized newspapers back in the early 20th century).

tag (or sign-off, sig-out, lockout, standard outcue)
The closing line where reporters say their names and station call letters ("Ella Funt, Newsradio 920").

A longer analysis piece that attempts to put a complex issue into perspective.

Reporters, anchors, disc jockeys—those paid to appear on the air (as opposed to engineers or office staff).

target audience
A particular demographic (a segment of the public) at which media producers or advertisers aim their message.

A brief headline or promo for a coming radio or TV news story.

A word or phrase used by a writer to move a story from one point (or topic, or idea) to another. Common transitions include however, meanwhile, on a related issue, nevertheless, etc.

trend story
A feature story on the culture's latest fads, fashions and ideas—from fashions and technological gizmos to social customs and lifestyles.

A typesetting mistake.

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Video news release
A press release, complete with images and sound, ready to be used in a televised newscast.

VO or voice-over
When the anchor speaks over video, or when a reporter narrates over video cover.

A news story by a reporter that doesn't use actualities; when it's delivered by an anchor reading a script, it's called a reader.

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wire service
An organization (such as The Associated Press) that compiles news, features and photos and distributes them, for a fee, to subscribing publications.

A radio news story that begins and ends with a reporter's voice "wrapped" around one or more sound bites. (TV reporters called this a package.)

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yellow journalism
Reporting that's sleazy or sensational.

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