This is my favorite term in Hebrew.
When you hear the term press conference, microphones and cameras might come to mind, perhaps also politicians or celebrities making statements.
When I hear the Hebrew version of press conference, the first thing that comes to my mind is balloons. That’s because the term is מְסִבַּת עִתּוֹנָאִים listen and repeat – literally, a party of journalists.
Mind you, this is not the Israeli sense of humor coming through from the ranks of the Academy of the Hebrew Language. Rather, the first word in מסיבת עיתונאים (when not combined with another noun in a phrase, מְסִבָּה listen and repeat) might also translate to English as gathering… and invites us to take a closer look at the word itself.
The root of מסיבה is ס.ו.ב (s.w.b) meaning circling. You’ll find it in other familiar words such as סְבִיבוֹן listen and repeat (the Hebrew word for dreidel) and סִיבוּב listen and repeat (a round or a circuit).
A party is an occasion where people gather ’round for a particular occasion. Likewise, a press conference has people encircling the human object of journalistic attention.
לֹא צָרִיךְ סִבָּה לִמְסִבָּה, אָבָל כֵּן צָרִיךְ סִבָּה לִמְסִבַּת עִתּוֹנָאִים.
There’s no need for an excuse (a reason) for a party, but there is a need for a reason for a press conference. listen