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Stop the press! It's no news conference ...

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's first-ever official session with reporters was a reminder just how useful a term 'the press' still is.

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The newspaper industry may be nearing its Götterdämmerung phase, but a slightly quaint term from the days of "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" showed a bit of new life recently.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke held the Fed's first-ever official press conference April 27. It struck me most, aside from the fact that it took place at all, by the way it was so uniformly called a conference.

One might have thought that , suggesting actual ink and paper, was too old-fashioned, too narrow, to be relevant, but evidently not, at least not at the Fed.

The alternative term would be . My Google News check just now shows "news conference" clearly ahead of "press conference," 35,898 hits to 28,604. But a 44 percent market share is still respectable.

"An interview or announcement given by a public figure to the press by appointment" is Merriam-Webster's definition of , a term it dates to 1937.

"An interview given by a public figure to the press" is Merriam-Webster's definition for kids. Its sample sentence is, "The President will hold a press conference later today." M-W's Learner's Dictionary defines press conference as "a meeting in which someone gives information to news reporters and answers questions," and notes "news conference" as a synonym.

That was the term preferred by Richard Nixon, known as the US president who really hated the press.


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