Last night, I was thinking about jargon – specifically, newspaper jargon. So much has changed just since I started in the newsroom 30 years ago. Goodness, 30 years ago? My, how time flies!
Well, that’s roughly a generation, isn’t it? I suppose the changes aren’t spectacular when you look at it that way. Still, I don’t like change.
The newspaper where I cut my teeth was using the term “library” when I got there, so I don’t know if they ever called it a morgue. My father, also a journalist, called it that. When I first started at the newspaper, I fully expected to make use of its morgue. But, no, they had a library. I’m still miffed.
Back then, we didn’t have “captions.” Captions were for the slicks (magazines). We wrote cutlines and skel lines to explain what a photo was about. Nobody seems to know what a skel line is anymore, and you rarely hear anyone speak of cutlines. It’s all captions, now. I’m miffed about that, too.
In addition to jargon, other changes in the newspaper world distress me no end. People actually have to pay to have an obituary run in the newspaper. Pardon my French, but what the hell? Obits are news and nobody pays for other types of news in the newspaper. Imagine readers having to pay for a reporter to write up the local city council meeting or take photos of a car crash. I realize the industry is flopping along on the road, trying to catch up with the Internet and avoid total collapse, but I never thought I’d see the day when you had to pay for a regular obit in the newspaper. That’s shameful, if you ask me. You didn’t ask, but there it is. Take it or leave it.
Newspaper jargon is colorful and unique. Or at least, it was. I do see writers still use the word “lede,” though I never much liked that one. I mentioned a “double truck” to an editor a few years ago and she didn’t know what I was talking about.
I’ve already waxed nostalgic over the clacking of typewriters, clatter of the teletypes, thunder of presses and the scent of ink. The latter hasn’t changed, at least. Newspapers still use ink – those that print their own stuff, at least. Some smaller papers farm out the printing rather than buy their own press. That makes good economic sense, but still….
Nope, I don’t like change. Not in most areas, anyway. I have to admit, though, that the ability to blog freely, research broadly, become immersed in social networking sites and get involved in indie publishing is exquisitely exciting.
The Internet has wrought colossal changes in the way freelance and independent writers work and opened up an entire universe of great opportunities. That’s the kind of change I can live with.