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Romps, Tots and Boffins: The Strange Language of News [Kindle Edition]

Robert Hutton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

You may not recognise the phrase, but if you have ever picked up a paper you’ll have come across ‘journalese’. Essentially, it covers words and phrases that are only found in newspapers – whether tabloid or broadsheet. Without them, how would our intrepid journalists be able to describe a world in which late-night revellers go on booze-fuelled rampages, where tots in peril are saved by have-a-go heroes, and where troubled stars lash out in foul-mouthed tirades? When Rob Hutton began collecting examples of journalese online, he provoked a ‘Twitter storm’, and was ‘left reeling’ by the ‘bumper crop’ of examples that ‘flooded in’. He realized that phrases which started as shorthand to help readers have become a dialect which is often meaningless or vacuous to non-journalese speakers. In a courageous attempt both to wean journalists off their journalese habit, and provide elucidation for the rest of us, Romps, Tots and Boffins will catalogue the highs and lows of this strange language, celebrating the best examples (‘test-tube baby’, ‘mad cow disease’), marvelling at the quirky (‘boffins’, ‘frogmen’) and condemning the worst (‘rant’, ‘snub’, ‘sirs’). It will be a ‘must-read’ ‘page-turner’ that may ‘cause a stir’, ‘fuel controversy’, or even ‘spark’ ‘tough new rules’ in newsrooms.

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Editorial Reviews


"Hilarious, wonderful, and very true—a mini classic."  —Guardian

"Robert Hutton . . . has set himself up as the Dr Johnson of this strange, widely read, hardly spoken, language."  —Financial Times

"I'm loving a little book just out by my fellow political journalist Rob Hutton. It's . . . so much more than a hilarious compendium of the ghastly cliché to which our trade is prone. "  —Times

About the Author

Robert Hutton has been the UK political correspondent for Bloomberg since 2004; previously, he worked at Financial Times and the Mirror.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1865 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Elliott & Thompson; annotated edition edition (September 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #882,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book. December 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I really liked the book. I am an attorney who writes all the time in it was interesting to see how another profession solves the problems.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully true February 14, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
So now the secrets are out.
Astute and funny, this romp through journalists' language weaponry does more than reveal the cynical truths behind news gathering and writing, it illuminates the subtle forces that lie at the very foundations of journalism.
Required reading for every deluded soul under the illusion that they want to be a reporter because they can write a bit, feel the world needs saving or it must be glamorous reporting on the rich, the famous and the crazy.
Anglo-centric, of course, but much of it applies to journalism anywhere in the world. Be nice to see some local spinoffs.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The language of new, or to be more precise, the language of UK elite newscasters (and wannabees) is more specialized than you might think. Vocabulary, phrases, constructions exist at the desk of the news reader and in many cases, nowhere else in the English speaking world. This book makes this point by use of good writing, humor, and careful analysis. It's probably best for Brits who are exposed to news-speak, but it would make great reading for anglophiles from anywhere, as well as for journalists and journalism professors.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good fun. August 31, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good fun, buit no more than that.
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More About the Author

As UK political correspondent for Bloomberg, Robert Hutton can be seen wandering into shot on 24-hour news, or phoning in copy in the background during prime ministerial trips abroad. It was during one such trip, waiting for a 4am plane in Jordan, that he tweeted a list of words only used by journalists. It was to become the start of his Journalese collection, Romps, Tots And Boffins.

Before joining Bloomberg in 2004, he worked at the Mirror and Financial Times. Having read Artificial Intelligence at Edinburgh University, he is believed to be the only member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery to have built a rugby-playing robot. Arguably his most notable contribution to journalism has been the introduction of the 'news sandwich' to the political lexicon. The best piece of advice he was ever given was during a visit to Tripoli: "That's my M4 by your leg. If I grab it, duck." He lives in south east London with his wife and sons.

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