Byline Madness Laureate

November 28, 2011 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

Many dug deep in the fertile fields of crime, politics and sport in a desperate bid to snatch the honour of being the inaugural Byline Madness Laureate.

They had to create a sentence of no more than 50 words inserting as many journalistic cliches as possible. Extra points if the sentence made some sort of sense.

Consider this fine example from Leith Phillips, who now wears the mantle of Australia’s first Byline Madness Laureate: “The innocent victims were fighting for their lives after being viciously attacked and savagely beaten by a mysterious gang of drug-crazed accountants who informed sources say escaped miraculously at the 11th hour from shark-infested waters while probing new era bottom of the harbour regimes destined to become game-changing core practices.”

It is exactly 50 words, contains at least 17 cliches and makes sense, almost. I am told he did this quickly and without thinking too hard, as all the best stories are created.

Some of the 25 entrants started well but carelessly typed jargon instead of cliches. Many used the loved crime story, a thick chapter in the cliche handbook.

David Mussared sent this: “Detectives stumbled on the grisly find while sifting through the ashes after Wednesday’s suspicious warehouse fire in Victoria’s notorious underbelly district, lifting the lid on a grim tragedy which has shocked this tiny, tight-knit community.”

David Cohen’s love of a good story came through with this compelling tale: “In the middle of the carnage on the strife-torn road of death in the leafy suburb the suspect decamped in a northerly direction after making his excuses without revealing the tragic birthday backstory that closely involved a baffled boffin, a grieving shark, a teen cheerleader, and a lotteries winner.”

Sarah Ryan gets a dishonourable mention for creating a sentence starting: “Shocked neighbours in the quiet suburban street reported that crazed psychopath Chris Pash.”

Ian Williams scores a highly dishonourable for a sentence under the headline: “Nut screws washer and bolts.”

Phillip Gould went with the trusted sports report but fell down when he went over the word limit: “Rampant jingoism led to the ramped-up hubris displayed by the All Blacks team following their hard fought victory over a dejected France, who had been beleaguered prior to the game, and had been written off by rugby pundits far and wide despite the endemic patriotism displayed by Francophiles in every corner of the world who had tuned out to the unbackable favouritism of the New Zealand team.”

Bernard Cohen kept to the word ceiling: “The double whammy of a great big tax of Middle Eastern appearance linked to two Sydney models and a cheeky new threat hanging over heroic battlers sitting idle in Labor heartland in our two-speed economy proved no barrier for millions of Australian’s (sic) lining the streets to welcome Queen Elizabeth.”

Leith Phillips receives a package of books from Fremantle Press including The Waterboys by Peter Docker, My Dog Gave Me the Clap by Adam Morris, Brothers by Antonio Buti and one of the few remaining copies of The Last Whale by Chris Pash.

Cliche of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays.

Cliches in the media are tracked across the world using Factiva and Dow Jones Insight.

Chris Pash’s book, The Last Whale, a true story set in the 1970s, was published by Fremantle Press in 2008.

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Entry filed under: Cliche of The Week.

Cliche of the Week 73 – Clinging to Life Cliche of the Week 74 – Hit the Big Time

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