Explaining Today's Papers

Answers to your questions about the news.
Sept. 7 1999 8:38 PM

Explaining Today's Papers

Updated Dec. 14, 2005


Readers have requested explanations of some of the terms used in Slate's "Today's Papers" column. Here is a brief glossary.

Above-the-fold: On the top half of the front page (therefore visible even before the newspaper is unfolded). Signifies one of the most important stories of the day, according to that paper's editors.

Evergreen: An article that could run at any time. There are two types of evergreens: 1) an article without a direct tie-in to the day's news (e.g., "Traffic on the Rise in Metro Area"); and 2) a story that recurs regularly (e.g., "Elderly Threatened by Record Heat").

Front (as a verb): To place a story on the front page. The five national newspapers often reach different decisions on which stories to front on any given day. (See also, above-the-fold.)

Jump (verb or noun): For a story that begins on one (usually the front) page, to continue on another page. Or the place in the story where it breaks between pages. Or the entire part of the story after the first page. Because studies consistently show that few readers follow an article beyond the jump, many papers attempt to lay out the crucial elements of the story before the jump. (USA Today is the most extreme case, with front page news stories that almost never jump). Thus, the organization of facts around the jump can often reveal a paper's slant on a story.

Lead: The news story deemed most important by the newspaper. In most papers, the lead appears on the front page at the top of the right-hand column. The New York Times is the strictest about this rule, while USA Today--which often runs a feature story across the top of the front page--varies the most from this standard. On occasion, the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times will displace the lead with a feature story--usually one with an eye-grabbing visual. In these cases, the lead will almost always be the next story down in the right-hand column. The Wall Street Journal has not adopted these conventions for leads. Instead, the paper usually fronts feature stories and an extensive, two-column news summary.

(Note: The opening sentence or paragraph of a news story is also known as the lead, but usually spelled "lede" to avoid confusion.)

Off-lead: The second most important news story of the day. The off-lead appears either in the top left corner, or directly below the lead on the right.

Op-Ed: The page in a newspaper where opinion pieces not written by the paper's editorial board appear. It originally stood for "opposite the editorial page." It also refers to the individual articles on the op-ed page (e.g., "Henry Kissinger's New York Times op-ed on the nuclear test ban treaty"). Some op-ed pieces are written by regularly syndicated columnists, and others are submitted to the newspaper unsolicited.



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

Even by Russian Standards, Moscow’s Anti-War March Was Surprisingly Grim

I Wrote a Novel Envisioning a Nigerian Space Program. Then I Learned Nigeria Actually Has One.

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 22 2014 12:30 PM Turkey Just Got Forty-Six Hostages Back From ISIS. How Did That Happen?
Sept. 22 2014 12:44 PM The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy
The Shortcut
Sept. 22 2014 12:31 PM Down With Loose Laces A simple trick to tighten your running shoes for good.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 8:08 AM Slate Voice: “Why Is So Much Honey Clover Honey?” Mike Vuolo shares the story of your honey.
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 12:22 PM The Age of the Streaming TV Auteur
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.