Sources: A glossary

In the interests of full disclosure, 200 Words is pleased to provide this guide to journalistic terms of art, to better assist readers in navigating media reports relying on information of uncertain origin.

  • Sources: Pretty much anyone I talk to.
  • Informed sources: Anyone who listened to that Morning Ireland interview I missed.
  • Reliable sources: She probably won’t get me sued.
  • Senior sources: Anyone older than me.
  • Industry sources: The PR guy from IBEC. Or ISME.
  • Multiple sources: The rumour five different people in the press pack told me.
  • A strategist: The guy who knocked on my door during the last election canvass
  • An experienced strategist: He’s also a tallyman.
  • An observer: The hack at the next desk.
  • An informed observer: The Jobbridge intern.
  • Public reaction: I got an earful from the taxi driver last night.
  • Sources close to the commissioner: Paul Reynolds.
  • An official spokesperson: Anyone from the press office. Guaranteed blandness. As an example, my favourite recent non-quote is: “We are engaged in a process which will take some time to review the options and that’s ongoing.” A quote for the ages there, you could plug it at the end of any story and it would be equally relevant.


By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.