7 more journalistic expressions in Portuguese, English and Spanish that every Latin American journalist should know

This fourth list of journalistic expressions in Portuguese, English and Spanish that every Latin American journalist should know had already been assigned to me by my assignment editor some time ago. The previous issues are among the most read on the LatAm Journalism Review website (see issues one, two, three). When it comes to evergreen stories, this is one!

The truth is that the apuração for this fourth edition took so long because I was encochinado and didn't want to take the lobster shift. But, this week, I finally managed to find some time to finish this list, with a happy aquário.

I hope this edition is helpful to your work. Don’t forget to send us your submissions of more words and expressions every journalist in the region should know: latamjournalismreview@austin.utexas.edu.

Chefe de Reportagem, Assignment Editor, Jefe de Redacción

If journalism were a branch of the Armed Forces, the assignment editor would be the equivalent of the corporal, the first rank just above soldier-reporters. She guides and coordinates the work of reporters, especially in newsrooms with breaking news coverage. The function is crucial in situations involving several investigative fronts, such as major events, tragedies and natural disasters.

Apuração, News Gathering/Reporting, Reportear

Reporting is the act of researching, investigating, gathering the information necessary for the production of a report. A reporter who conducts an interview, talks to a source, visits the site of an event, or researches documents is apurando. In Portuguese, apurar and to investigate are similar, but have different aspects: the first is used for day-to-day reporting while the second refers to more in-depth and difficult-to-execute jobs. Reporting, in English, and reportear, in Spanish, have broader meanings, which include other activities of a journalist, such as writing and publishing reports.

Coleguinha, Colleague, Colega

Coleguinha is a typical expression of Brazilian journalists and is how we refer to each other, especially among journalists from different media outlets. The use of the diminutive can denote friendly treatment, as it is in most cases, but it also carries a hint of irony because, at the end of the day, colleagues are also rivals in the search for news and competition can be high.


In nearly 20 years of journalism, I finally found a word to describe how I felt many times in newsrooms: encochinado. In Spanish, cochino is pig, but it also means dirty or filthy. To be encochinado is to be overloaded with work and to not have even a minute to leave the newsroom. The term is more common among Venezuelan journalists, but the sentiment is global. What journalist has never felt encochinado?

Pescoção, Dog Watch/Lobster shift

In my first years of professional life at a daily print newspaper, the late Jornal do Brasil, I was terrified of pescoções. They took place every Friday night: after closing the Saturday edition, we continued working to close the Sunday edition, in shifts of more than 12 hours, running into the night and without overtime pay. Nowadays, pescoçãoes, literally “large necks,”are rare because so are print newspapers that depend on a rigid routine of closing the issue for printing.

In Spanish, pescoção can be translated as cierre de edición largo. In English, two expressions, dog watch and lobster shift, are associated with night work in newsrooms, but they are not ideal translations for pescoção. Dog watch is to stay on duty while the newspaper is being printed in case something happens that requires an editing update. The lobster shift is the work at dawn reserved for focas.

Matéria fria, evergreen story, caliche

In Portuguese, matéria fria is content that can be published at any time, that never gets old -- like this list, for example. Matérias frias, literally “cold articles,” are useful during periods when there is less breaking news, such as during weekends and holidays.

In English, the reference to the climate exits and the botanical metaphor enters. Evergreen is content that never gets old, or never goes bad, and therefore is always ready for publication.

In Spanish, a similar expression is caliche, used by Venezuelan journalists to classify content of little news relevance or that is already known to the public. It is not the same thing as matéria fria or evergreen, but it also serves to fill the news at less busy times.


In large newsrooms of print newspapers and other traditional outlets, the editor-in-chief and other senior editors often work in a glass-walled room, where they maintain privacy while being able to observe the work of other journalists in the newsroom. Because of this, in Brazil, the word aquário refers to the group of executive editors of a newsroom, because they usually work in a glass room, similar to an aquarium.

Previous editions

Eight journalistic expressions in English, Portuguese and Spanish that every Latin American journalist should know

Eight more journalistic expressions in Portuguese, English and Spanish that every Latin American journalist should know

Part 3 of the LJR glossary of journalistic expressions brings reader behind the scenes of leaks, rowbacks and more