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3 Types of Journalist Scare Phrases

3 Types Of Journalist Scare Phrases

With Halloween approaching to conclude this year’s spooky season, we wanted to take a look at some of the frights and scares unique to journalists. Though they are not worried about any monsters in their closets or magical hocus pocus, there are some phrases in the journalism world that, by their mere utterance, send chills down their spines. On our podcast, Coffee with a Journalist, we ask reporters, editors, and other journalism professionals about their takes on journalism, from how they manage pitches to their predictions for its future. One question we always ask is about their top-of-mind journalism scare phrases. Here are three types of journalist scare phrases that stop some of our guests in their tracks:

Industry Phrases

As many are aware, the journalism industry has been in a business and cultural shift for quite some time. From outlets trying to weather the storms of COVID-19 to attacks on free speech in the age of misinformation, journalists and PR pros alike have felt the effects of phrases like: 

“Layoffs” – Ann-Marie Alcantara, Wall Street Journal

“Fake News” – Max Willens, Digiday

“Libel” – Macy Williams, PopSugar

Deadline Phrases

With the instant connectivity of social media, it feels like the news cycle has never been as rapid and timely. With this, the expectation to meet deadlines is essential. Below are some scare phrases by journalists that stop them in their tracks (literally):

“Stop the presses.” – Aaron Pressman, Fortune

“Don’t break the embargo.” – Brenda Stolyar, Mashable

“Not getting back to me.” – Gabriela Barkho, Modern Retail

Editing Phrases

Lastly, the most relatable scare phrases for journalists revolve around editing and crafting the story. You work so hard on a piece, construct it to be informative, compelling, and entertaining, only to have an email reply with:

“Mistake” – Mary Ann Azevedo, FinLedger

“Hey, I have a few edits.” – Samson Amore, The Wrap

And last but certainly not least: 

“CORRECTION” – too many journalists to count

As scary as these phrases can be, journalists know it is part of the territory in reporting on the world around them. Despite the news feeling bleak, hectic, and borderline dystopian at times, journalists hold an important role in informing the masses. As gatekeepers of information, it is up to journalists to ask the scary questions and search for the truth, whether it’s a trick or treat. And for that we applaud them. 


Curious to learn more insights from the journalists mentioned above and from other great ones as well? Check out our episode, Coffee with a Journalist: Aaron Pressman, Fortune, where he talks about managing his pitch inbox, his hopes and fears for the future of journalism, and more! Subscribe to our podcast today for new episodes every week! Also, follow us on Twitter for the latest updates, episode drops, and blog releases. 

Mathew Cruz

Mathew started at OnePitch in January of 2020 as a Marketing Apprentice. He currently serves as the SEO & Content Marketing Specialist handling content creation from social media to the OnePitch blog. Mathew studied Integrated Marketing Communications at San Diego State University. In his free time, he loves creating art, visiting museums, and traveling.

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