"Color" = "information"?!

Michael Quinion wordseditor at WORLDWIDEWORDS.ORG
Mon May 28 13:52:31 UTC 2007

Ben Zimmer wrote

> OED defines the relevant sense as "words, descriptions, or attendant
> features of an evocative nature."  See this post for early cites in
> sporting contexts:

When I was a lot younger (middle 1960s), I worked as a BBC radio producer.
The term "colour piece" was in standard use then (and may still be for all
I know - I'm out of touch) for a short piece setting the scene.

When I was working at Radio Brighton, my boss - a news reporter of some
reputation - went out to cover the local elections in what was then the
Southwick and Fishersgate Urban District Council, a tiny authority long
since defunct. He was asked for a colour piece while we were waiting for
the results and he described in mordant detail the pouring rain, the one
reporter, three residents and one dog waiting on the steps, all fitfully
illuminated by the flashing orange beacons of the pedestrian crossing
outside. That was a real colour piece.

ObADS-L: He called the orange lights Belisha beacons, named after the man
who introduced them, Leslie Hore-Belisha, Minister of Transport 1931-7
(who also thought it a good idea that new motorists should pass a driving

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words
E-mail: wordseditor at worldwidewords.org
Web: http://www.worldwidewords.org

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

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