BEHIND THE HEADLINE: The myth of the biflic

Behind the pages of The Brown Daily Herald is a staff of over 200 students. Holed up at 195 Angell Street, editing away, this group is prone to both journalistic nerdiness and caffeine-induced hijinx.

Much of what happens at The Herald may seem like a shrouded mystery, but in reality, we are a very transparent organization, eager to share our secrets with you. Watch for more BEHIND THE HEADLINE to learn about the magic that happens after you go to sleep, and results in the daily paper.

The myth of the biflic, after the jump.

The myth of the biflic

In longer Herald stories, like last week’s recap of Brown’s efforts in Haiti, the article is often broken up into sections. Each receives a short headline, called a biflic. Biflics can be comical, serious or just plain informative. At The Herald, we’ve been using the term — and the tool — for years.

We’re not the only Brown publication inserting them into articles; The ‘dependent dubs them “pithy phrases that sum up what’s in the upcoming section.”

But a quick search of the Interwebz reveals that biflic is, in fact, a completely fabricated term. We don’t know where the term came from or how it started, but it exists in countless places on our computer server and more importantly, deeply embedded in our institutional memory. Herald staffers who go on to actual journalistic careers and use the term in real newsrooms are looked at with looks of confusion and disappointment.

A consultation with a 2001 alum and former Herald editor revealed the following:

You’ve stumped not just me but at least a decade’s worth of Herald alumni. The query is working its way up through the alumni chain … No revelations yet. At some point I suspect we’ll identify an editor who claims credit for making up the word, since that’s probably what happened.

We may never know the answer. Like Loui’s or the Frisc, this must be something found only on College Hill.

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