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Support Real News - Journalism Glossary from the News Media Alliance

As part of its Support Real News campaign, News Media Alliance has provided definitions of common journalism terms people often get wrong. For more information visit

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Support Real News - Journalism Glossary from the News Media Alliance

  2. 2. Journalists use a lot of terms that may make it difficult to tell fact from fake news. We broke them down to help you understand what reporters are talking about.
  3. 3. ANONYMOUS SOURCES They're not unknown. The writer and her editor know who the source is. All this means is that the source wished to remain unnamed, usually for fear of retribution.
  4. 4. SOURCES SAID The journalist is paraphrasing information received from a number of sources. It means multiple people said this, but they may have spoken on background.
  5. 5. ON BACKGROUND A source spoke to the reporter to give him information, but the source cannot be quoted directly. Often, background quotes will be attributed to a company or group.
  6. 6. ON THE RECORD Anything said on the record can be used by the reporter and all quotes can be attributed to the person sharing that information.
  7. 7. OFF THE RECORD This means a source has essentially told a journalist a secret. A good journalist will never report on off-the- record conversations, not even to say they had them.
  8. 8. EDITORIAL The opinion of the publication. This is not news, but is the newspaper's official stance on an issue.
  9. 9. OP-ED Literally "opposite the editorial," this is an old-school newspaper term for opinion pieces. These articles are not news. They are the thoughts of the individual writers.
  10. 10. SPONSORED CONTENT If you see the word "sponsored," that means it's an ad designed to look like the publication's normal features. Reputable outlets will always label sponsored content.
  11. 11. SATIRE It may seem like fake news, but satire is not meant to be taken as fact. Honest publishers will note on their About Me pages that they are satirical and not news.
  12. 12. Visit for more information on how you can #SupportRealNews