Legislative Termsact: A bill or measure after it passes one or both chambers of Congress; also used to describe a law that is in place.
adjournment: The end of a legislative day and any business of that day; different from recess, which does not end the day.
adjournment sine die: Adjournment without formally setting the next meeting time; used to call the end of the Congressional session.
advice and consent: The constitutional power Senate has to weigh in on and confirm any Presidential appointments or international treaties.
amendment: A proposal by a member of Congress to change the language, provisions or stipulations in a bill, resolution, motion, treaty or in another amendment. The House Rules Committee pre-determines the number and type of amendments that are relevant to a particular bill when it goes to the House floor. In the Senate, any senator may offer an amendment on the Senate floor.
appropriation: Legislation that provides funds for a specific purpose.
authorization: The legislative action that establishes a program and the general amount of money to fund that program; the program is not given funds until there is an appropriation.
bill: A proposed law.
conferees: The House and Senate appoint conferees to a conference committee to resolve differences between House and Senate passed versions of the same legislation.
discretionary funds: Funds that a federal or state agency can award without publishing annual funding priorities.
majority leader: The leader of the majority party in the Senate is called the majority leader. The majority leader in the House is second in command of the majority party, after the speaker.
markup: The process by which congressional committees and subcommittees debate, amend, and rewrite proposed legislation.
minority leader: The leader of the minority party in the House or Senate.
ranking member: The member of the majority party who ranks first in seniority after the chair on a committee or subcommittee.
ranking minority member: The highest ranking (and usually longest serving) minority member of a committee or subcommittee.
recess: A temporary interruption of business; unlike adjournment. Generally, the Senate recesses (rather than adjourns) at the end of each calendar day. The House usually adjourns from day to day. The Senate often recesses, thus meeting on the same legislative day for several calendar days or even weeks at a time.
resolution: A formal statement of a decision or opinion by the House or Senate or both. A simple resolution is made by one chamber and generally deals with that chamber’s rules or prerogatives. A concurrent resolution is presented in both chambers and usually expresses a Congressional view on a matter not within Congressional jurisdiction. A joint resolution also requires approval in both chambers and goes to the president for approval. Simple and concurrent resolutions do not go to the president.
rider: A added to a bill so it may “ride” to approval on the strength of the bill. Generally, riders are placed on appropriations bills. Also known as “pork barrel” legislation.
speaker of the house: Presides over the House of Representatives. Elected, in effect, by the majority party in the House; next in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice president.
table a bill: A proposal to remove a bill from immediate consideration; often used to kill a measure.
unanimous consent: A time-saving procedure for non-controversial measures whereby measures are adopted without a vote. A member simply says “I ask unanimous consent for ...” and states the proposal.
whip: A legislator who is chosen to be assistant to the leader of the party. Whips are chosen in both the House and the Senate.
(The following documents were gratefully consulted to compile this document:
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Glossary of Legislative Terms
The American Academy of Adolescent & Child Psychology Glossary of Legislative Terms
The Capitol.net Glossary of Congressional and Legislative Terms)
Media Termsassignment editor: Staff member of a television or radio news team who judges which stories ideas are appropriate for reporters to cover.
audience: A group of spectators, listeners, viewers, or readers of a performance, program, or work — the people you want to reach.
boilerplate: A brief paragraph describing who you are, what you do, and how you do it — can be used as the first paragraph in a biography or last paragraph in a news release.
booker: The staff person at a TV, radio, or cable program who arranges guest appearances.
byline: The name printed below the title of a newspaper or magazine article, crediting the author.
circulation: The distribution and/or the rate of distribution of newspapers, magazines, and other print publications.
“client pays” wire service: A service that distributes news or feature stories that are provided and paid for by clients to the print and broadcast media.
clip or clipping: A story cut from a publication or a segment cut from a video or audiotape.
contributing reporter or writer: A freelance or non-staff writer.
copy editor: The last person to see and approve written material before it goes out to its audience; the person responsible for its accuracy, grammar, and length.
editing: The act of reading, viewing, listening, rewriting and cutting print publications, video, or audio in order to focus the story.
editor: The person who edits stories for writers and producers.
editorial: A statement of opinion from an editor or publisher; an article or segment where the news staff openly expresses a bias.
editorial calendar: The planning guide for when a publication will focus on specific topics or special sections.
exclusive: A news item or feature article printed or broadcast by only one newspaper, magazine, or television station.
freelancer: A writer who sells writing services and is not tied to any individual publication or organization.
frequency: The number of times a publication is issued in a given period (i.e., daily, weekly, quarterly).
ghostwriter: A person who writes books, articles, etc. for another person who claims to be the author.
lead time: The amount of time that reporters and producers need to prepare stories and information for publication or broadcast.
letter to the editor: An open letter written by readers to a newspaper or magazine to congratulate, discuss, or criticize a previous article.
masthead: The list of editors, publishers, and senior reporters in each publication’s issue; magazines will sometimes also publish an advertising masthead listing the advertising staff.
media: All the means of communication — such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, online publications — that provide the public with news and entertainment.
media outlet: A publication or broadcast program that distributes news and feature stories to the public.
network: A group of broadcast or radio stations operating as a unit; often network affiliates will use the same editorial material.
news: Reports of recent events, especially those distributed transmitted through the media.
news feature: A special story or article in a print publication that elaborates on the ideas and concepts of a news item.
op-ed page: The page opposite the editorial page of a newspaper, used for columns and opinion articles written by staff members or experts in the topic; different from letters to the editor.
periodical: A publication that appears at regular intervals, i.e., weekly or monthly.
pitch letter: A letter written to a member of the media (i.e., editor, reporter, producer) suggesting a story idea or source.
producer: The person in charge of the coordination of all details, including editorial content, pertaining to a television or radio program, or of an online publication.
publication: The general term for a newspaper, magazine, or newsletter with information, news, and feature stories; usually for sale.
reach: The geographic area of the audience a media outlet can access; usually quantified as a number of readers, listeners, or viewers.
reporter: A person who gathers information and writes reports for publication in a newspaper, magazine, newsletter, or television and radio broadcast.
round-up story: An article or feature intended to review a subject or on-going issue over a past period of time, i.e. the last month or year.
sidebar: A column of copy and/or graphics which appears next to a print article to communicate information that relates to or complements the story.
social media: The tool set (including blogs) used to publish content to the web, including audio, video, photos, text, files, etc.
spin: A particular point of view or slant given to a story to make it more appealing or to make something appear favorable.
specialized publication: Industry-specific trade or professional publication.
syndicated: A report or article that appears in more than one media outlet.
syndicated columnist: A person hired by publications or broadcast organizations to produce written or spoken commentary about specific feature subjects. A syndicated print column is usually published in a wide variety of newspapers, magazines, or on many local networks.
wire service: A subscription service that provides news stories, features, etc. directly to media outlets.
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