Cliche of the Week 128 – Sugar Hit

In search of a sugar hit. Will it be chocolate or cake or politics?

A new form of sickly sweet has been appearing in news pages recently, most of them in Australia.

The phrase ‘sugar hit’ is a shorthand to describe Kevin Rudd’s impact on voters with his return to the top job in Canberra.

“They point out that polls show the Coalition would still win the election and argue the ‘sugar hit’ of Rudd’s return is almost certain to dissipate in the weeks ahead. Attacks have an edge of shrill intensity.” (The Australian Financial Review, July 6)

“The poll figures in the weeks ahead, which will show whether the sudden surge in support is a short-lived sugar hit and in danger of falling away, will be the key to the election decision.” (The Australian, July 1)

“There were predictions of course of a sugar hit for Labor, it seems to have got it.” (ABC Radio, July 1)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

July 13, 2013 at 3:06 pm 1 comment

The Last Whale – ABC Radio National’s Hindsight

ABC Radio National turned the story of The Last Whale into a 50 minute radio documentary. It is the 1970s and the last whaling station in the English-speaking world, at Albany, Western Australia, is starting to feel the heat from the Save the Whale campaign.

The program closely follows the book, The Last Whale, with new audio material gathered in Albany by Rod Vervest and Kim Lofts of the VoicePrints project.

The audio includes the meeting for the first time between Kase Van Der Gaag, a former whaling ship master, and Jonny Lewis, the 1977 spokesman for the anti-whaling activists. They got together for the first time in 2007 in Albany and spoke on tape. Emotional stuff.

Also included in the program is Pat/Rose Farrington, a Californian who came to Australia to run the Life Be in It campaign and ended up at the gates to the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company, and Canadian Bobbi Hunter (wife of Greenpeace’s first president Bob Hunter).

The Hindsight program also spoke to Mick Stubbs, former first mate of the Cheynes III whale chaser. He’s the first person to appear in the book, The Last Whale, published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

Listen to the program via podcast.

June 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm 1 comment

Cliche of the week 127 – Only time will tell

The only sure way to safely predict what will happen in the future is to travel through time the slow way and observe what happens.

The phrase ‘only time will tell’ means we won’t know what will happen until it does. A case of stating the obvious.

The last few months have seen a sharp rise in journalistic usage of the phrase with around 1,400 appearances per month compared to 400 two years ago.

“The survivors have gone on to have bone-marrow transplants. Their prognosis is good, but relapse is still possible, and only time will tell.” (The New York Times, March 21)

“Only time will tell how this major development will affect services and facilities in Witney, but at the moment it looks predominately like positive news for the town.” (Whitney Gazette, UK, March 20)

“Only time will tell whether (Quebec Liberal Party leader) Mr Couillard is up to a challenge that, in principle, should be attainable since the PQ government, after less than six months in office, is plagued with voter dissatisfaction.” (The Globe and Mail, March 20)

“Only time will tell whether the trend of increasing economic diffusion persists …” (The Atlantic Monthly, March 19)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

June 2, 2013 at 12:54 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 126 – Belt tightening

Belt tightening is out of favour in Australia, at least until after the federal election, but the rest of the world continues to suck in stomachs and place fat budgets on subsistence diets.

The phrase is being used across the world in news reports up to 1,400 times per month compared to about 500 two years ago.

This standard attempt to describe fiscal rigour mostly appears in the USA followed by business reporting about Europe.

“The world’s biggest clothing group, Spain’s Inditex which controls the Zara brand, posted Wednesday a record 2012 net profit as strong sales abroad, especially in Asia, and a global expansion offset belt-tightening by its domestic consumers.” (Agence France-Presse, March 13)

“Wellington has been hit by Government belt-tightening, with official unemployment hitting 7.9 per cent in the region, the highest level since 1994.” (Dominion Post, March 9)

“The firm’s (Goldman) most recent partner class was the smallest since before the initial public offering, a sign of belt-tightening.” (Wall Street Journal, March 8)

“General belt-tightening, followed by more belt-tightening with sequestration, is forcing the nation’s multibillion-dollar nuclear weapons complex to realize that the free-spending days of the Cold War are over.”(Press Democrat, March 5)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

May 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 125 – Acid Test

Use an acid test when digging through poor-quality ore and you may find sound political judgment, financial health or the presence of gold.

Unfortunately, we use the term ‘acid test’ so often — several thousand times a month — in news reports that the term has become more base metal than sparkling riches.

“The first three months of 2011 were an acid test for the ACT’s 16-year-old urban search and rescue capability.” (The Canberra Times, February 23)

“For former Lok Sabha Speaker, this year’s poll in Meghalaya is an acid test for his political survival after his defeat in the presidential election last year.” (The Times of India, February 23)

“Class warfare tends to fail the acid test of lived experience.” (Orange County Register, February 21)

“Real Madrid v Manchester United is `acid test’, says Ferguson.” (The Guardian, February 13)

“The acid test of whether the Retail Distribution Review is succeeding in promoting a more level playing field will be seen in advisers’ attitudes to products such as tracker funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and investment trusts.” (The Times, January 2)

That last one from The Times of London also has ‘level playing field’, qualifying as a double-positive cliche acid test.

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

May 12, 2013 at 9:47 am 2 comments

Cliche of the Week 124 – Fifty Shades

Fifty Shades of Grey, the trilogy of erotic books, has had undue influence on headline writers and anyone seeking a quick publishing dollar or trying to get punters to a fundraising night.

Media coverage of Fifty Shades peaked in December with over 3000 appearances worldwide for the month.

“Marvel Comics Goes `Fifty Shades’ With New Line of Romance Novels.” (Hollywood Reporter, February 8)

“Mary Lou McDonald momentarily set male faces 50 shades of crimson during the week when she announced, at a committee meeting, that she wanted to raise the cost of whips in Leinster House. `By that I mean party whips,’ she clarified.” (The Irish Mail, October 27)

“Inspired by the latest craze over author EL James’s trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, the Reach for a Dream Foundation will be hosting a dinner fundraiser called Untie Fifty Shades Of Red Ladies Night.” (The Post, South Africa, October 24)

“A Fifty Shades of Pink fundraiser for women’s cancer research will be held in the Central Coast Adventist School hall tomorrow.” (Central Coast Express, October 24)

“This `Fifty Shades of Fashion’ show is a must for all who desire to dress to impress.” (The Fingal Independent, Ireland, October 23)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

May 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm 1 comment

Cliche of the Week 123 – Confected Outrage

Place outrage in a bowl, mix well, add artificial sweetener and keep beating until a furious confection emerges thick and sticky enough to give substance to air molecules.

‘Confected outrage’ has been erupting from news pages, mostly in Australia; 65 times in January compared with four times a month two years ago.

A lot of usage is down to shadow Attorney-General George Brandis, who said, in response to a joke by Tim Mathieson, the Prime Minister’s partner, about prostate examinations: “The joke was in poor taste but that having been said, I don’t think we want to have in this country a culture of finger-wagging and confected outrage.”

“Sure, outrage can be confected. No one was really offended by (former speaker) Peter Slipper’s text messages. Showy moralising anger is a new weapon in the political arsenal.” (Chris Berg in The Drum, December 20)

“The Coalition’s confected outrage over the politicisation of Treasury is harder to take, though, when one considers the broader politicisation of the public service under the Howard government.” (Business Spectator, November 8)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

May 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 122 – Brute Force

Brute force, where overwhelming numbers are used to roll a smaller opposition on a battlefield or in a political debate, is at best a short-term solution.

It is also an easy option to use “brute force” in news reports, with the phrase appearing in mainstream media more than 300 times a month or twice that if web news is included.

“But at the World Memory Championships, the brute force power of the brain to store data is all that matters.” (Wired, January 28)

“Wheelchair Rugby was one of the major highlights of the London 2012 Paralympics, with players regularly hitting the front pages of the national newspapers. The game was founded in Canada in 1977 and was originally dubbed Murderball because of the brute force involved.” (Plymouth Herald, Devon, January 25)

“For all the talk about game plans, personnel and changing tactics, this was a match won because of brute force.” (Irish Independent, January 21)

“Canada is lucky to have police leaders like Chris Lewis, who understand that authority is more than brute force, and that police need to move carefully, lest they undermine the rule of law even as they try to uphold it.” (The Globe and Mail, January 19)

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

April 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm 1 comment

Cliche of the Week 121 – Gone Ballistic

The incidence of cliches, those tired phrases that flow too easily when writing a news story, is steady and not quite ballistic.

Similarly, the use of ‘gone ballistic’ isn’t that common worldwide but it’s a regular, with about 20 appearances a month.

“The sport (stand-up paddling) has gone ballistic across inland USA on rivers and lakes.” (Sunshine Coast Daily, January 11)

“A packed King’s Hall, that unsurpassed, passionate colosseum of boxing, had gone ballistic when Rinty (Monaghan) knocked out Scotland’s Jackie Paterson in the seventh” (Belfast Telegraph, December 8)

On plastic skins for cigarette packets: “Since the new packs arrived in stores in October, Mr Osmond says demand has gone `ballistic’.” (Financial Times, November 29)

“Not surprisingly, union workers here have gone ballistic” (Vancouver Sun, November 3)

“Los Angeles actress Jennifer Garner is said to have gone ballistic when husband Ben Affleck said he’s still in touch with former flame Jennifer Lopez.” (Daily Tribune, Bahrain, November 1)

“A sure sign that a video game has gone mainstream is when there is a live-action series made about it. And the Halo franchise . . . has definitely gone ballistic.” (Today, Singapore, October 10)

Cliché of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays. Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

March 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 120 – Rocket Science

Rocket science rates towards the cold, thin outer atmosphere when it comes to the journalistic difficulty scale.

In reality, the technical tricks which sent man to the Moon look primitive today compared to current scientific endeavours.

It’s not quantum physics?

“It’s no rocket science really; all you have to do is get on top of a cliff and throw yourself into the ice-cold water below,” (The Times of India, December 2).

“Launceston’s old man of youth street workers says that working with troubled kids is not rocket science,” (The Examiner, December 2).

“Playing Mozart isn’t exactly rocket science — although the great pianist Schnabel wisely observed that Wolfi was too easy for children, too difficult for adults,” (Bristol Evening Post, November 30).

“It’s not rocket science, they say. It’s a pretty straightforward plan: Get high, get rich and stay out of jail,” (Vancouver Province, November 29).

“It’s not rocket science but rocket boosters Britain needs from the Chancellor next week — not more tax breaks for millionaires,” (Scottish Daily Record, November 28).

“Managing properties and buildings is not exactly rocket science. Skills, knowledge and practice are needed,” (New Straits Times, November 28).

Cliché of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays. Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale , a true story set in the 1970s about Australia’s last whaling station and the activists who fought to close it, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

January 13, 2013 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

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