Wednesday, May 12, 2021
May 12, 2021

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From the Newsroom: How to speak Columbian

By , Columbian Editor
Published:

Newspapers have long had a colorful language all their own. Over the years some of the expressions, such as a galley (a proof made to check typesetting) and a cookie sheet (The Columbian’s old name for a story budget) have become obsolete, but we still have our own colorful lingo. Here are some of the words you would hear if you hung around our newsroom for an afternoon:

Arno, Benton — Our two headline type fonts. Arno is for features, like this column. Benton is our news font. (Yes, we see the irony, thank you.)

buster — Our word for a subhead, which is used to break long stories into sections.

carousel — the five rotating stories atop our website, columbian.com.

cutline — A photo caption.

digest — Wire services send these summaries of their stories several times per day. I make a point of looking at the 1 p.m. Washington and Oregon digests.

dummy — A miniature layout of the print paper that shows where the ads go. The newsroom gets to fill in the rest.

e-paper, e-edition — Not to be confused with our website, this product is a faithful online replica of our printed paper.

flag — The newspaper’s name at the top of A1.

folio — The newspaper’s name, section, date and page number atop every inside page.

lede — The first paragraph of a news story.

light readership box — This is what we call our boxes that go alongside a news story. “If You Go” and “Update” are the most common.

masthead — The box on Page A2 with the names of all of the executives and editors and how to contact us.

Merlin — the database that contains our digital archive. Though not accessible to the public, it dates to 1994. Older than that, we have clippings and microfilm.

monkeyfish — An odd term we use to describe the feature stories we cover on weekend shifts.

nut graf — Not to be confused with the lede, it answers the vital question: So what, and why should I care?

paywall — This limits the free content you can get from us online. We need all of our readers to support us, not just the print audience!

proof — An early version of a page printed by copy editors so that it can be checked for errors. These are slightly smaller than the finished page and as I get older I have trouble reading them.

rail — Also called a sidebar, it’s a secondary story or list of information that accompanies the main article.

Saxo — Our story management software. As in, “Hey, make a Saxo assignment for that story!”

SEO — Search engine optimization. We want to write web headlines and stories in such a way that they are easy to find with a Google search. Even better, we want our story to be first in the search results list, so we use good SEO.

skybox — The two spots near the flag that promote content inside the paper.

style –– Rules we follow about spelling, capitalization, place names and other stuff so that they appear consistent from story to story.

tab — Short for tabloid, which is a smaller-than-normal page format. Our Friday Weekend section is a tab. The Oregonian is a tab every day; we are what is called a broadsheet.

Trax — Software we use to schedule and manage photo assignments.

Got it? Now I will put in Saxo and a Trax for next week’s column.

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