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Get that monkey into action, we need a reverse ferret on this – a real marmalade dropper

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Get that monkey into action, we need a reverse ferret on this - a real marmalade droppper

An excellent guide to hack jargon in the Press Gazette here, for those people with the temerity to do something other than journalism for a living.

Such people are known as Muggles. But this word can even apply to people theoretically working in journalism.

While editor of the Evening Standard, George Osborne remained a muggle.

He could be heard to ask, in a loud, self-pleased way, what time the paper was off-stone.

This is a reference to when the paper starts printing. In the olden days that involved a slab of stone hitting tables of ink to align the type.

It hasn’t been done like that for decades. One suspects Osborne didn’t know that; certainly no one told him.

In the early days as a hack you can feel you are writing exclusively for the spike.

In the distant past this was an actual large nail on the editor’s desk onto which your useless copy would be placed. Now it’s a digital bin, but the feeling is much the same.

Biff is the TV equivalent of spike. As in, I just got biffed by Sky News, again.

Pleasingly, the writer uses TB’s spelling of the word flak. Arguably the correct way is flack, but we mean it to designate folk whose job it is to endure machine gun fire – to take the flak.

McDonald’s death knock is when a reporter is told to knock on the door of a bereaved relative for a quote, decides to buy a burger instead, and later tells his editor no one was home.

There’s a misconception among flaks that hacks are serious people rigorously pursuing the truth.


What we really want is a monkey (a photographer) to get a great image that will turn our boring page lead (the main story on a page) into a marmalade dropper (a great story).

Those stories sometimes merit a screamer!

On occasion, on the whim of a cantankerous editor, the entire newsroom might have to do a reverse ferret – ditch all previous positions on an issue and start again.

If that reverse ferret looks hard to stand up (prove) and the lawyers are getting twitchy about the headline, then you riddle it.

John Smith Is a Bullying Tedious Narcissist, is probably actionable.

If you riddle it – Can It Be True That John Smith Is A Bullying Tedious Narcissist? – you’ll probably be alright.

Got away with it again…

Press release of the day

The most anticipated recession in history is now also the most postponed, says this from Qontigo.

The one we have been expecting for a while, always “seems to be six months away” says Olivier d’Assier.

“Each data release seems to be designed to give investors just enough information to rule some things out, but not enough to rule out all the things they are worried about,” he adds.

There’s a full report attached to the release. 

Stories that will keep rolling

1) How badly has the rising cost of car repairs hit Saga’s insurance arm?

2) If the Reserve Bank of Australia holds rates, does that mean we are more likely to do the same?

3) How much will rising oil prices influence the Fed’s next move on rates?

4) How many heads must roll at the CBI? 


Election special: No-one likes anyone

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