Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Fun with jargon

Someone pointed out a perceived misspelling in this blog post, in which I announced the "spot the literary reference" contest. Of which there are still no entries, by the way. Hint, hint. The column in question, if it wasn't entirely clear, as the one that appeared a few weeks ago on O.J.s aborted book publishing deal.

Anyway, the perceived misspelling -- the word "lede" -- was, in fact, not a misspelling. In newspaper jargon, the start of a story -- the lead -- is referred to as the "lede" in order to avoid confusion with "lead," as in the metal used during the hot-type production oh so many moons ago. Although "lead" isn't used so much in newspaper jargon, "leading" still remains, describing the size of the space between lines of type.

After the misspelling was pointed out to me, I realized two things. The first was that, really, I'd only used the word "lede" in order to look like a smarmy smart-ass who was yanking out industry specific lingo. The second thing I realized is that you only look like smarmy smart-ass if people know what the heck you're talking about.

So, for those of you not intimately familiar with newspaper lingo, here's a list of definitions commonly used in newsrooms across North America, made available courtesy of the Freep -- better known as the Detroit Free Press.

Read. Learn. Then you too can look like a smarmy smart-ass for using industry specific lingo from an industry you're not even in.

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