"on background" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Wed Nov 14 17:33:43 UTC 2012

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The Washington Post Dec 14, 1956; pg. D11 col 2

"Before Vice President Nixon made his recent speech pledging aid to
Western Europe, newsmen were called in for a so-called "backgrounder."
This means they were told for "background" that the Nixon speech was to
be a great speech, another way of advising that it be given headlines."

Boston Globe Aug 16, 1966; pg. 31 col 6
"The journalistic rules on "deep background" meetings preclude
identification of the official present."

_The Washington Post May 4, 1967; pg. A20 col 2
"Now a newspaperman, former White House Press Secretary Bill D. Moyers,
is equally disturbed.  "The tendency to use background stories without
attribution leaves the reader confused about the source and therefore
about the credibility of the information," said the man for whom the
phrase "on background" was almost a refrain -- the man, indeed, who used
to "interview" the President faithfully at the end of the year and relay
to the press a summary view of the world for attribution to "highest
authority." "

_Boston Globe_ Oct 23, 1973; pg. 2 col 4
"His aides, most of whom spoke "on background," meaning they did not
wish their names to be printed, said the President was "in a fighting
mood." "

_NY Times_ 02 Aug 1985: p A3 col 2
"After a meeting between Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Foreign
Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze on Wednesday, American officials spoke
on background and Soviet spokesmen for full attribution."

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Monday, November 12, 2012 9:01 AM
> Subject: "on background"
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> --------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "on background"
> --------
> This journalistic phrase has been around for a while. Not in OED:
> 2012 Bob Woodward _The Price of Politics_ (N.Y.: Simon & Schuster)
> xiii:
> Most interviews were conducted on "background," meaning the
> could be used in the book but none of the sources would be identified
> by name.
> I.e., "with the understanding that the source will not be identified."
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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