Journalism Glossary of Terms Young Reporters Need to Know

Working as a reporter can be highly rewarding. Although the journalism industry has changed over the past 20 years to be more online than in print, there are still several terms that you need to know to be successful in your career.

Glossary of Terms for Beginning Journalists

Add: An addition to a story that’s already written or in the composition process.

Assignment: An instruction given to a reporter to cover a specific event.

Attribution: Designation of the person quoted in the report, such as the source for the information included in the story.

Banner: The headline that’s across or near the top of the page. It can also be called a ribbon, streamer, or screamer.

B Copy: The bottom section of a story that gets written ahead of an event that happens to close to the publication deadline.

Beat: An assigned area of coverage assigned to a reporter. Can include government, education, crime, or an exclusive story, to name a few.

Break: When a news development becomes available or the point of interruption in a story that started on a previous page.

Bright: An amusing short story.

Bulldog: It is the early edition of the newspaper.

Byline: The name(s) of the reporter(s) who wrote the story. It’s placed on top of the published article.

Correspondent: A reporter who sends news from outside of the newspaper office.

Crony Journalism: Reporting that avoids stories or presents stories lightly to protect friends or personal interests.

Crop: The editing of a photograph to remove a section of the image or to fit the allotted space.

Cut: A printed picture or illustration. Some editors use this term when eliminating material from a story.

Cutline: Text under a picture that names people present in the photograph.

Dateline: A location, such as a city or town, that indicates to the reader where the story begins.

Enterprise Copy: A story that digs deeper into the facts of an event than regular reporting would require. 

Exclusive: A story that delves deeper into a topic than a regular new story; may include named or unnamed sources with unpublished information.

Feature: A news story that emphasizes the entertaining or human aspects of a situation.

Folo: Content that continues an existing story or follows a similar theme of another presented story.

Futures Calendar: A way to track future appointments, interviews, newspaper changes, and story ideas.

Graf: A short paragraph that summarizes or adds to a story or idea.

Handout: An insert added to a newspaper for publication that can include special news stories, roundups, advertisements, etc.

Hard News: News features that cover current events or live coverage.

HFR: Means “Hold for Release.” It is material that cannot be used until it gets released by the source or at a designated time.

Jump: This term refers to the continuation of a story from one page to another.

Insert: Breakout or other features placed into or between a story.

Investigative Reporting: Deeper dive into stories using sources with knowledge of a particular topic; may include privileged documents or interviews with sources that want to remain hidden.

Kill: Removal of a section of a story, or to discard the story entirely.

Lead: The first paragraph of a news story.

Makeup: It’s the design or layout of the piece, including the illustrations, headlines, and body type that the reader sees.

Masthead: This statement is a formal piece of information that includes the name, officers, and place of publication for a newspaper.

Morgue: This term refers to the newspaper library. 

News Hole: Area of the paper for news, illustrations, or non-advertising material.

Off-the-record: Material provided to a reporter in confidence to be used as background information, often unverifiable unless a second source can independently verify the information.

Op-ed Page: An editorial page where the opinions of the news staff or the public can share ideas, positions, and make arguments about relevant topics.

Overnight: Story written before or after a newspaper goes to print, with the intent of publishing it the next day. 

Pool: A selection of reporters and photographers who are designated to specific stories or beats.

Press Release: Content given to news media for publication by individuals, companies, or government officials.

Puff Piece: An irreverent story that may be written for entertainment purposes or to promote something.

Roundup: To gather individual, related stories together.

Rowback: A correction to a previous story.

Running Story: An ongoing development or piece of content that warrants further updates.

Sell: When a reporter pitches an idea for a story.

Shirttail: An addition added to the end of a longer one to clarify a point or to share information on a related topic.

Sidebar: A supporting story that relates to a nearby story; may be written by a separate reporter and published with a byline.

Situation: A roundup piece that gives new readers background information on a particular topic.

Slant: A persuasive piece.

Source: information that helps to build a story; can include people, records, or documents of an event.

Split Page: The front page of an interior section.

Sponsored Content: Story paid for by a third-party, often as an advertisement that is written and displayed like a normal news story; the “sponsored content” or “paid endorsement” designation is important to let readers know the story is not regular editorial content and money may be an influencing factor in the decision to publish the piece. For example, talking about supplement brands in a health story where you see a mention the purchasing of BioRay, Aubrey Organics, and Klaire Labs products, you would want to know that these may be influencing the article; however, since the story isn’t about them, you might not necessarily include any mention of it being sponsored or an endorsement.

Stringer: Contractor worker who is paid per story or number of words.

Tight: When ads reduce space for news stories.

Tip: Information given to editorial staff, sometimes anonymously.

Verification: Checking the authenticity of a story.

Wire Services: An electronic transmission portal operated by the Associated Press or United Press International to make national or international news stories available for publication.

Going into an interview or sitting in a newsroom without a working knowledge of many of these terms can reflect poorly on you. For editorial teams that maintain a high level of quality, they will expect you to know these terms so you can enter the flow of work seamlessly.