by Abby Hood, Guest Contributor
Anonymous source – Anonymous sources are only unknown to the public. Usually the writer and editor know who the source is and is able to check their identification and expertise or qualifications. In rare cases I have heard of sources only being known to the writer for security purposes. Regardless, this just means the publication doesn’t print their name.
Asset – This usually refers to a piece of graphic element for a story or post, like a logo, photo, illustration, etc. You will hear this in both marketing and in newsrooms.
Byline – This just means a story you’ve written and published. “I have bylines in….” This is because your name is printed alongside the story, sort of like a dateline. Sometimes your legal name and byline will be different, i.e. my name is Abigail Lee Hood but my byline is Abby Lee Hood because that’s what I go by. Make sure you communicate this to editors.
Beat – A beat is your niche or expertise. Maybe you work the police beat, or the environmental beat. This is your speciality. But it’s also okay not to have one!
Breaking news story – This is a class, hard news story with no opinion or editorializing. Usually published very quickly after an event to get the news out.
Copy – The most vague term; this is literally just words. Could be words in a blog post, for a Facebook ad, or for a story. “Turn that copy in by Friday,” is a good example. They want the assignment, whatever it is, before the weekend.
Content – Another vague term; content is usually a marketing or social media term. Content is anything you post online, whether it’s video, email, blog post, etc. Usually you will create content for a client or company. It’s not as common in the journo industry.
Cold email – A cold email is usually written to ask for business or try to get work. It’s different from a story pitch, which is usually only for the news industry. Cold emails are usually sent to try and get social media work or copywriting work and should introduce yourself and your qualifications to the potential client.
Cutline – The caption to a photograph or other illustration. Used interchangeably with “photo credit.”
Content creator – Someone who makes content online! This could be an Instagram influencer, YouTuber, etc.
Creative – This is usually a marketing or copywriting term and can be used interchangeably with “asset.” This is simply an illustration or piece of graphic design to accompany your copy. You might hear, “What creative are we getting with this?” or “When can we talk about creative for that post?”
Dateline – The bit of text at the beginning of a story that gives you the location, and sometimes the date, of where and when a story was written or reported.
Dek – This is a marketing term and usually refers to a dek of slides, aka a fancy name for a Powerpoint. Usually a dek pitches an idea, product, timeline, etc.
Edits – Edits are changes and requested improvements, or feedback, on your piece. Your editor may say, “I’ll have those edits to you tomorrow.” You need to make the edits yourself; your editor will not do them for you.
Editorializing – This is inserting your opinion, voice or ideas into a story instead of doing straight, hard news. This is acceptable in some features and opinion pieces; make sure you know the publication you’re writing for so you understand what’s allowed and what’s not.
Feature story – A feature story is usually in the ballpark of 1,500 words and has an angle and a takeaway. It’s a deeper look at a trend, problem, new idea or sometimes, a person or company. This is usually not breaking news and will be published days or weeks after an event. It doesn’t always have to be connected to breaking news, though, and can be original reporting on something you’ve discovered to be newsworthy on your own.
Freelancer – A general term for someone who does any kind of work without a company or boss. Social media managers, journalists, copywriters, designers and other creatives can all fall under this category.
Graf – Short for paragraph.
Intro – There are many kinds of intros but I’m talking specifically here about a kind of email, one that usually introduces two people to each other. “Can I get an intro to Beth?” is a way to request a digital introduction to the person.
Lede – Journalist lingo for the opening graf of your story. Not spelled “lead” although you may see that from time.
Nut graf – The takeaway or thesis of your story. Usually comes one or two grafs after the lede. Tells the reader what you’ll be talking about for the rest of the story.
News peg – Used interchangeably with “news hook.” This is a news item or story the rest of your article hooks on to make it timely and relevant. You must have a news hook in most feature stories, although not always.
News hook – See above.
Newsworthiness – This is the qualification for being reported, best answered by asking, “Why is this worth writing and publishing?” This is the justification for telling readers a story. Something has newsworthiness if it’s important or timely.
Opinion story – An article that expresses opinion. These will often feature data, sources and interviews just like a news story—at least, the good ones do.
Op-ed – Used interchangeably with “opinion story.” See above. Short for “opinion editorial.”
Portfolio – A collection of your published work, normally used to show employers or editors you pitch. These can be digital or physical, and are important for designers, writers, marketers, etc.
Pitch – A news term. Send pitches to editors to get stories, usually via email.
Photo credit – Used interchangeably with “cutline.” See above.
Peg – Used interchangeably with “news hook.” You may hear an editor ask, “what’s the news peg?” Aka, what makes this timely and newsworthy?
Section – A part of the paper or publication, like the business section or the lifestyle section.
Source – Someone you interview for a story, or sometimes, a paper or other document you’re using to support your article.
Timeliness – The quality of a news story depends on timeliness; if you publish a story long after an event happens it’s no longer timely.
Vertical – Used interchangeably with “section.” Editors will be in charge of certain verticals, like the science or politics vertical.