From Lead to Beat: Journalism Jargon Dictionary
Updated on Jun 20, 2017 - 10:40 a.m. IST by Urvashi Dalal

Like any other profession, Journalism too has its own terminologies. Or, aptly put, it has its own Jargons, necessary for the professional world. Every student must learn such lingos to understand its in-depth working. Such words are used for all journalism streams like print, TV and web. Journalism Jargon Dictionary lists words you need to swank as a journalist. 


It is a journalist’s or a reporter’s job to communicate to the audience. However, there are obstacles to keep the insiders progress unknown to the others. Maybe this is the reason why this profession has a list of jargons understood by every professional in this field. Let us start with some of the common lingos.


This refers to telling your readers where the information mentioned in the story comes from. ‘Attribution’ is important because not every reporter always has information first. They rely on sources or data from another story, which then becomes an obligation to mention.


A topic or a specialised area a reporter covers is called as a ‘Beat’. These topics can be education, politics, entertainment, sports etc. Some ‘Beats’ require special specialisation and techniques to cover.

The 'Byline' is the name of the reporter who writes the story. It is usually placed at the beginning of an article.


Unlike the commonly understood term, ‘Copy’, refers to the content of an article. So, when someone refers to a Copy Editor, we are talking about someone who edits news stories.


The final date by which you are expected to submit your copy. These ‘Deadlines’ depend on your copy and are on daily basis from one story to another. 

This is a longer comprehensive piece compared as to a news report. ‘Feature’ can be an interview or an opinion piece, or an investigation for that matter. Basically, a written analysis of a certain topic to the readers.


The highlighted text at the top of an article which indicates the nature of the article is called a ‘Headline’. The headline catches your attention and makes you read the entire news piece. There are many ways to write a headline, depending on the style your newspaper or magazine follows. 

House Style/Style Guide

A ‘Style Guide’ is a set of style standards for writing and designing of documents in an organisation. Some media houses follow British English and some prefer the American style. Some use “double quotation marks”, others use ‘single quotation marks’. A style guide keeps the grammar and spelling rules so that journalists can maintain a consistent style.


It is the sizing, spacing and placement of pictures and words, followed for every copy. ‘Layout’ is maintained throughout news or features. 

News peg

What makes a news or a feature worth writing, the reason for its justification is its ‘News peg’. This is usually referred to in the second paragraph of the feature.

News story

The what-when-where-who-why-how of something newsworthy. The covering of an event, action or a reaction is a ‘News story’.  

On the record/Off the record

If a news is shared or any information is provided to you ‘On record’, you are allowed to print it. If it’s ‘Off the record’, it is just for your info and not to be used in any article.



A ‘Pitch’ is a summary of the story in about 50-200 words, explaining why you want to do a particular news. It is a brief run-through about the news, its structure and all its elements.


This is where you get your stories from. A ‘Source’ can be anonymous or credited. For reasons of journalistic honour, you are entitled to keep your sources secret.

Word count

This is the word limit to how you will structure all of your content of the story. The layout is set as per the ‘Word count’ in the story. Mostly journalists stick to their word count.


Also Read:

New Off-beat Programmes in Media and Communication

Top International Universities for Masters in Journalism and Media Programmes

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