“Journo”

The OED reports that this diminutive for journalist originated in Australia in the 1960s, migrating to the UK no later than 1984, when this ominously prescient quote appeared in The Listener: “Rupert Murdoch once said, if the journos don’t like it they can always get out; there are plenty more journos on the street.”

The atmosphere was animated and perhaps a little self-satisfied—the New Hampshire primary is tremendous fun, and journos and politicos alike are always tickled to be part of it—but of boisterousness there was none. (Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker, blog, January 8, 2008)/It’s been nearly a year since the release of UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record, journo Leslie Kean’s attempt to steer The Great Taboo into the arena of mainstream debate. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, blog, July 29, 2011)

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5 responses to ““Journo”

  1. I’m a very liberal language person who spent 90 percent of his career (I recently retired) as a news reporter and editor(also magazines and books). I’m well aware of the English predilection for slanging words by adding an -o at the end; I had an English woman friend who said “goodo” all the time to indicate agreement. In this case it might be professional gravitas on my part, but I would be annoyed if someone were to introduce me to another person as a “journo-” sort of like introducing a reporter as a wordsmith, or a politician as a Solon, or a lawyer as an ambulance chaser. But if the word sticks in the US, I’ll just have to say, “goodo.”0
    English tic

  2. Living in England, being English and nearly 40 years old, I’ve never heard the word journo used. To be honest, we’d be more likely to say a newspaper reporter than a journalist anyway. I’d consider “journalist” to be an Americanism!! Not sure about the “English prediliction” for adding an “o” at the end of a word either. Isn’t that more of an Australian thing? I should think we’re more likely to add a “y”, as in “goody”, or “footy” (football); or an “er” as in “footer” (football) or rugger (rugby)

    • The only o suffixes I can think of that I have heard in use in the UK are goodo and righto, the first being an informal expression of approval and the second of agreement/compliance. Unless there are more than I’m not thinking of, I’m not sure two instances constitutes a predilection.

  3. I’m English and although I use journo from time to time, I still consider it a self-concious “Aussie-ism”. Like many Brits in our 30s, I would date the invasion of Australian English into British English to the mid-1980s when the Australian daytime soaps ‘Neighbours’ and then ‘Home and Away’ took off in the UK. It’s Australian to take a the first syllable of any word and put an ‘o’ on the end to make a shortening.

    So I’d look across the Pacific for this one, rather than across the Atlantic, although of course it could have snuck into NYC via London rather than coming direct from Sydney!

    • Interesting insights on the Australian connection. The footy and rugger examples by Kay suggest to me that the British have a predilection for all kinds of nicknames, pet names, etc., formed by adding an assortment of suffixes, as well as the letter “s”–as in “Wills”– and also by shortening words to the first syllable–as in veg and the likes of “Reg.” On the adding-an-o issue, I think of the veddy British nickname “Debo,” for Deborah Mitford.

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