Newsroom jargon is becoming mellow these days with long-time murderous references to “killing” or “spiking” stories now being replaced by “delete,” observes Grumpy Editor.
John Kelly, in his Washington Post column, brings this out as his newspaper goes to a new computer system.
Spiking a story harkens back to the days when green-visored editors had about a six-inch nail sticking up from a round metal base within arm’s length on their desks.
If a story didn’t measure up, needed more facts or just turned off an editor, it was spiked.
This was another way of “killing” stories.
Sometimes, an arm-waving editor or subordinate would accidentally receive a puncture in the process from an unseen spike poking up from a stack of copy.
So, it looks like “killing” and “spiking” are deadly terms being banned in newsrooms.
As Kelly says: “Now, however, my drop-down menu doesn't say ‘spike.’ It says ‘delete,’ just like on your computer.”
“Spike has been spiked,” he hastens to add.
However, Grumpy Editor feels a term such as “spike a rumor” will continue to find its way into news reports.
The phrase registers better than “delete a rumor.”