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100+ News Definitions:
A Glossary of News Industry Terms

october 14, 2019 Adam

news definitions

The news media, or news industry, includes all forms of mass media that are used to deliver news to the general public or a target demographic. The forms of mass media include broadcast (radio and television), print media (newspapers and magazines), and the internet (online newspapers and blogs like The Huffington Post and Axios).

In this blog post, we provide a glossary of over 100 news definitions. Whether you are a new journalism student or just love watching cable news networks, knowing these terms will help you process and understand the news in a more informed way.

Remember, at TheNewsHOOK, you don’t just read the news, you learn the news!

News Definitions:



The transmitting of programs by radio or television.


The ideas, attitudes, and trends that are shared by most people and regarded as conventional or normal.


Refers to the main forms of mass communication collectively: broadcasting, publishing, and the internet.

New media

Methods of mass communication using digital technologies like the Internet.


A kiosk where newspapers are sold, often on a street corner or in a building lobby.

Non-traditional news sources

Refers to Internet news sources (online newspapers, news blogs, etc.). However, these sources are becoming so mainstream that they are starting to be considered traditional themselves.


A newspaper or magazine published at regular intervals.

Personal blog

A regularly updated website, usually run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal and conversational style.


Preparing and distributing books, journals, music recordings, articles, and other material (usually for sale).

Traditional news sources

Refers to print media (newspapers, magazines) and broadcast news (radio and television).

Roles in News Media


One who hosts live television and radio news broadcasts, generally involving various other contributors.


A journalist with a regular and recurring contribution to a periodical or other news source.


Someone who writes for or contributes to a particular media source.


A newspaper or broadcast reporter who makes contributions related to a specific subject and/or geographical region (e.g. war correspondent).


Has the final say on content and quality before news is released, particularly for written news sources, e.g., newspapers and magazines.

Informed citizens

Those who are considered regular consumers of news media and who stay up-to-date on reliable news sources; high awareness.


Anyone writing or producing content for newspapers, magazines, online news sources, or broadcast news.

Managing editor

Lead editor for a news organization.

Press corps

Group of journalists who are considered core to a particular region or section of news, all reporting in general to the many news outlets in their sector.


One who reads news (e.g. in newspapers).


Gathers and reports on news as an employee for a particular news source, such as a newspaper, website, or broadcast news network.


See Informed Citizen; one who is highly informed on the news day-to-day.


Associated Press

The Associated Press (AP) is a US-based not-for-profit news agency. It is owned by its contributing newspapers and broadcast stations, all of which contribute stories to, and use material from, the collective group.

Breaking news

New information about an ongoing or currently developing event.

Free and independent press

Refers to news agencies that are free from influence by government or corporate interests.

Freedom of the press

The 1st amendment of the United States constitution.


The activity or profession of writing news for print or online media. Or preparing news to be broadcast.

News cycle

A complete news cycle starts from the first time that the media reports on a current event, and lasts until the last media coverage on public reactions to the earlier reports on the event. The emergence of 24-hour cable news networks considerably shortened this process.

News wire

An electronic news-service that delivers up-to-the-minute news to the media, usually via the internet.


Newspapers or journalists viewed collectively. Or coverage in newspapers and magazines.


Biased or misleading information purposefully spread widely to help or harm a person, group, nation, etc.



A recurring magazine or newspaper section, generally written about the same subject and/or by the same person with each issue.

Cover story

The article or story that is featured on the front cover of a magazine or other periodical.


An opinion-based article which does not represent a representative or academic piece of writing, but rather reflects the personal views of the specific author.

Front page news

The story (or stories) that are featured on the front page of a newspaper or other periodical.


A news story’s title, generally printed in larger letters and situated above the content of the article itself.

The lead

The introduction to a news story, generally featured in the first few sentences of an article and designed to draw readers in.

Story breaker

Breaking a story is to be the first to present the news in a particular media format to the public (e.g. breaking news on television).

Story hunter

A journalist or other news contributor who seeks out stories and news to report on.

Story teller

One who tells or designs a narrative.

News and Politics


Unbiased; no particular political leanings.

Political fervor

Heavy political conviction.

Political spin

Presenting of political news with a particular bias in place; telling of events in such a way that a desired narrative is presented, usually instead of an undesirable reality, such as during a political campaign.

Seek truth

The search for information and knowledge that is relevant to the public interest and would perhaps otherwise be left undiscovered.

Speak truth to power

The presentation of the truth without political spin directly to those in power, with the expectation that they must answer for their actions and be held accountable.

More Journalism Jargon


The approach that is taken to presenting a story or piece of news; the structure of the narrative.

AP style

The journalistic style or standard used by the Associated Press (e.g., for grammar, sentence structure, etc.).


The naming of a source for information.


A large-font headline that runs across the entire width of a piece of print media (e.g. a front-page newspaper headline).


The scope of coverage for a particular reporter or journalist.


A particular (usually political) leaning that a story or author takes in presenting news; not objective.


Visual content that exceeds the intended margins of a media format (e.g. a photograph in a newspaper that is cut off by the edge of the page).


The primary content in a story or article.


A tag that identifies the author and sometimes provides a short bio or introduction to the author’s work, usually preceding or following a story.


The total number of editions, copies, or pieces of (usually print) media that are distributed and consumed by readers (e.g., number of newspaper subscriptions).


The text in an article or story.

Copy editing

Editing of text for grammar, sentence structure, and other matters of form.


Changing the size or aspect ratio of visual content or print layout by directly removing content.


A complete sentence with a present-tense verb that describes a photograph.


Same as colloquial usage; the “due date” for a particular assignment given to a journalist or editor.

Direct quote

Verbatim remarks from a subject of a news story, presented directly in quotation marks.


A page mock-up, generally representative of the placement and formatting for news headlines, copy, and visual content.


Final preparation before publication; copy editing, improvement, quality assessment, and more.


An opinion piece that reflects the personal views of the offer, generally appearing in a dedicated section within a particular media platform.

Editorial cartoon

A comic or other illustration that presents the personal viewpoint of its creator.


Good practices considered to be moral and based on principles of right and wrong.


Stories that are not considered time-sensitive, which can be run as features at any point.

Feature stories

Articles which are generally longer and more expansive than others and which cover important issues about people, events, or other circumstances.


Unimportant or otherwise irrelevant copy, used to fill space among the rest of the news.

Ws (and H)

The five Ws are the who, what, when, where, and why of a story, while the H is the how.


Header content of interior pages (e.g., page numbers, section numbers, etc.).


A follow-up article which continues from an earlier story.


Whitespace in print media between columns or pages.

Hard news

Generally considered front-page-worthy news; usually falls into the scope of subjects like business, politics, international conflict, or extreme weather events.


The title of a story, written in larger text than the copy and containing an active verb.

Human interest

A story that is told for the emotional weight it carries, not the newsworthiness of the content.

Indirect quote

Paraphrasing of a quotation (i.e. not verbatim) without quotation marks.

Inverted pyramid

A structure for a story in which information is presented according to its importance in descending order.

Investigative reporting

Journalism that focuses on the investigation and reporting of information that is generally considered important and would otherwise remain undiscovered.


Continuation of a story between pages.

Lay out

Arranging all of the content of a story in preparation for print (e.g., copy, visual content, headline, etc.).


A newspaper story’s first paragraph; otherwise a journalist’s introduction to a potential story.

Lead story

The first feature story in a piece of media (e.g. the first story on the front page of a newspaper).


A false statement that damages a person’s reputation which is knowingly published despite its falsity.


How a story is presented; i.e., from beginning to end.


The work area for reporters, journalists, editors, and other employees of news media.


The criteria by which a story or article is deemed fit for publication.

No comment

This is a standard response given to questions or prompts by journalists and reporters when a respondent wishes for his or her words not to be used in any media and would like for no further inquiries to be made.

Off the record

Information provided to a journalist or reporter with the understanding that it will not be repeated, printed, or attributed to its provider.

Op-ed page

Opposite to the editorials, this page generally contains letters to the editor, opinion columns, and more.


The expression of stories, narratives, or ideas in a similar form to those surrounding them in a particular piece of media.


To report the words or information provided by another in a succinct, reworded, or boiled-down form.

Photo credit

Identifies the photographer of a particular photograph in a piece of media, required on any photograph featured in the news.

Primary source

The provider of the most substantial and/or most relevant information for a given story, and who is a reliable source for said information.


An article or story that presents a person, institution, or organization’s character as the bulk of the content.

Pull quote

A piece of copy from a story that is taken and presented in larger or more accessible format alongside the story to capture readers’ interest and attention.


A quote is a representation of the exact words spoken by a particular source, and to quote someone is to present these words verbatim within quotation marks.


To take a story and improve upon it through rewriting or to take piecemeal information and rewrite it into a compelling narrative or article.


Information or a compelling story that is taken up by a single media/news source and reported exclusively before anyone else.


Generally run alongside primary features or front-page news, a sidebar is a secondary piece that complements a larger story.


A single word or short phrase that is used as an identifier for a particular story or working piece.

Soft lead

A lead that is not part of the direct story, such as a quote, literary device, or anecdote.


The place from which the information for a piece is derived, such as a person, other reputable news source, or archive.

Story or piece

A newspaper or other media article; most common terms used by journalists and those in the field.

Summary lead

A lead which presents a synopsis of the story before moving into the bulk of the copy.


Newspapers whose formats are smaller by about one half as compared to standard print news.


Boxes or other formatted structures that indicate the contents of the media they adorn (e.g., boxes on the covers of magazines).


Wording that helps the flow of text and allows the reader to streamline from one thought or piece of a story to the next.


When headlines are mistakenly adjacent to each other in such a way that they form a single line after formatting (also referred to as "butting heads").

Undercover reporting

Reporting by a journalist who has infiltrated or in some way presented himself/herself in such a way that the subject of the story is misled and releases otherwise concealed information.

White space

Blank areas in print media or on websites (e.g. space between columns of a newspaper).

Yellow journalism

Sensationalism and exploitative reporting; often exaggerated and found in tabloids.

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