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

Cliche of the Week 119 – Fiscal Cliff

America has been stretching its neck out over a cliff of a fiscal kind, trying to snatch a glimpse of the future in the depths of economic ruin, expecting a fall rather than a slide.

In November, the use of the phrase “fiscal cliff” in almost every major English language news service in the world more than tripled to 23,000 compared with the month before.

Usage has slowly built from around June until last month, when everyone starting using the cliff to express the coming fallout from raising taxes and cutting government spending in the US.

“A big coalition of business groups says there must be give and take in the negotiations to avoid the `fiscal cliff’ of massive tax increases and spending cuts.” (Associated Press, November 26)

“There could also be some caution later relating to the US `fiscal cliff’, as investors worry over whether lawmakers will reach a compromise over the forthcoming tax increases and spending cuts.” (The Wall Street Journal, November 26)

“US-based stock funds suffered the most outflows since late July as US lawmakers inched ahead in talks to avert the `fiscal cliff’ of tax hikes and spending cuts set to occur in January.” (Reuters News, November 26)

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.

December 9, 2012 at 12:46 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 118 – Bustling

The world is obsessed with bustling. Cities are always like that, hotels do it, crowds mostly do it when they are not rioting, shopping districts are lucky if they are and train stations don’t need a sign saying they are busy.

This description of energetic and hurried action appears in about 2000 mainstream news reports each month.

“About 30 miles away, in the loft-style office of Action AIDS in Philadelphia’s bustling Chinatown section.” (The Philadelphia Inquirer, November 19)

“After days of incessant rocket fire, the largest city in southern Israel has been turned into a ghost town. Schools are closed, stores are shuttered and normally bustling streets are empty.” (The Globe and Mail, November 19)

“The village hall was bustling with conversation.” (East Anglian Daily Times, November 19)

“Nearly three weeks after Sandy came ashore on the New Jersey coast, some of the beach towns that made this area famous remain largely empty and dark, shells of their bustling summer selves.” (The Wall Street Journal, November 19)

Sandy again: “In a usually bustling retail plaza, windows of shuttered shops were grimy, with mannequins in winter coats tipped over and stacked like corpses.” (The Washington Post, November 12)

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.

December 4, 2012 at 8:51 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 117 – Austerity Measures

Austerity measures, aimed at curtailing government debt and increasing revenue, have spread around the globe as the green shoots of economic recovery are trampled back into the dirt.

What news pages really mean by austerity measures is that governments have cut budgets and increased taxes.

Usage has doubled in the past two years to about 1200 times a week and the phrase is more often used in connection with Greece, followed by Britain and the US.

“More than any other public figure, the German Chancellor has been made the scapegoat of Europeans battered by the three-year-old sovereign debt crisis and the austerity measures governments have imposed to combat it.” (New York Times, November 13).

“Now, one of Italy’s most popular politicians is Beppe Grillo, a former comedian, who has risen in opinion polls by jumping on widespread discontent with the austerity measures of Prime Minister Mario Monti.” (The Wall Street Journal, November 13).

“They (Europe) are expected to confirm that the region and its core members are facing strong recessionary gusts, as weaker members stagger under the weight of the prolonged debt crisis and the crippling austerity measures deployed.” (The Globe and Mail, November 12).

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.

November 26, 2012 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 116 – Zero Tolerance

A sly infection is creating word carnage of the reportage kind despite a firm zero tolerance policy to journalistic clichés.

Zero tolerance, originally used to tell public officials that their work should be error free, is now used as a chest-beating crime fighting phrase.

However, zero tolerance is rarely an absolute ruling. Additionally, critics say that such policies give no leeway for extenuating circumstances such as when someone save’s another’s life by breaking the speed limit on the way to hospital.

“Conservative candidate Tony Roberts’ plan says his aims include cutting crime and cracking down on anti-social behaviour and implementing a zero tolerance approach to knife, drug and alcohol-related crime.” (Nottingham Evening Post, October 27)

“Zero-tolerance policies require punishment for violating school rules regardless of extenuating circumstances.”(The Atlanta Journal Constitution, October 27)

“It seems that with legal alcohol there is zero tolerance from authorities but when it comes to illegal drugs, the approach is all blind eyes and harm minimisation.” (Daily Telegraph, October 24)

“Each care home will be assigned an officer who will be aware of the 10 point dignity challenge that promotes an awareness supporting zero tolerance for all forms of abuse in care services.”(Huddersfield Examiner, Yorkshire, October 23)

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.

November 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

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