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

Cliche of the Week 115 – Economic Headwinds

The economic headwinds have been increasing in intensity during the past two years as bad news keeps cracking the global money trail.

Reporters, struggling to describe increasing dead end roads to prosperity, use the phrase economic headwinds around 400 times a month compared with 100 in 2010.

Two years ago, they were using “green shoots” of recovery more often, but that optimism shrivelled from root rot. Today, economic headwinds is the phrase of choice.

“Expedia shrugged off economic headwinds that have pestered rivals to report better-than-expected third-quarter results. . . ” (Dow Jones News Service, October 26)

“British Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the data but warned against complacency amid global economic headwinds.” (The Statesman, October 26)

“Ted Kennedy, who co-owns two pubs in Arundel and Winchester. . . said inns were better insulated from the economic headwinds.” (The Financial Times, October 23)

“Global economic headwinds from a slowing Chinese economy and a recession in Europe have led other central banks in Asia to focus on boosting growth.” (Reuters News, October 25)

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 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 114 – Picture of Health

To be in a picture of health you need to have, or have recently, recovered from, a major illness or be of an advanced age and still look as if you can take on a marathon.

Reporters fall back to ‘picture of health’ when pulling together survivor stories or those on spritely elders defying the long decay to decrepitude.

“Fast forward to last Wednesday and the 21-year-old (Jason Collett ) looked a picture of health as he recorded his first win as a senior jockey aboard Heart Testa at Canterbury, days after completing his apprenticeship on Monday” (New Zealand Herald, October 5).

About 82-year-old Fraser Perry: “He is a picture of health and has participated in virtually all of the annual triathlons since the inception in the 1970s” (Star-News, North Carolina, September 19).

American football: “Those of you who are eager to see Andy Reid become the former head coach of the Eagles might be wise to root for Michael Vick to be the picture of health this season” (The Philadelphia Daily News, September 12).
“At 41 he (Gary Barlow) is a picture of health in a Breton top, brown chinos and suede desert boots” (The Telegraph Magazine, October 6).

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.

October 28, 2012 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 113 – Down to the Wire

Sporting contests, union-employer disputes, political races and just about any two horse race have more drama and tension when they go down to the wire.

There’s a lot of nail biting on news pages round the world exposing events going down to wire up to 1,000 times a month.

It’s amazing how many sports events are so closely fought that they often nudge the wire. Sometimes political races also smack the wire.

“George Allen andTimothy M. Kaine each unveiled new ads Monday morning, adding to the cluttered airwaves in Virginia’s down-to-the-wireU.S. Senate race.” (The Washington Post, October 8)

“More importantly, it gives the 4-1 Blue Knights a 2-0 ACL record, the same as defending champion Dennis-Yarmouth in what’s shaping up as a league race that will go down to the wire.” (Cape Cod Times, October 8)

“But the Mountaineers weren’t short on motivation after an emotional week for the club and they took the match right down to the wire.” (The Chronicle, Toowoomba, August 27)

A labour dispute: “Both sides agreed to a federal mediator’s request for a one-week extension, and negotiations went down to the wire on Thursday.” (New Hampshire Union leader, October 7)

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.

October 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 112 – A shot in the arm

The economy and life generally need a kick start, a sudden and decisive shot in the arm to boost sentiment and wellbeing.

Sport and politics regularly get a shot in the arm, mainly in newspaper pages in the United States and Britain, followed by India.

Is there a sporting team that doesn’t need a shot in the arm or a political party seeking a few poll points or a household budget dreaming of a home loan rate cut?

“The win was a real shot in the arm for an under-fire Saints side who can end County’s unbeaten run.” (The Daily Express, September 22)

“While the state’s take from an expansion of gambling is a matter of some conjecture, Prince George’s, by hosting a casino, would be more assured of the shot in the arm that new revenue provides.” (The Washington Post, September 23)

“The intraday rally in Indian equities got a shot in the arm after the Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav laid to rest the fears of mid-term elections.” (The Economic Times, India, September 22)

“A boost in automobile sales also provides a shot in the arm for the broader economy.” (The Salt Lake Tribune, September 21)

Cliché of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays. Clichés 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.

October 9, 2012 at 9:35 am Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 111 – Death Knell

The death knell has been sounding so frequently lately that it must mean the apocalypse is near, according to news pages round the world.

The bells have been ringing to mark the demise of cheap power, strong currencies, old dictators, good music and most things we hold dear.

“The green light yesterday ends Universal’s fraught bid for regulatory approval and sounds the death knell on EMI’s 80 years as an independent British music company, providing a home to artists from Pink Floyd to Coldplay.” (The Irish Times, September 22)

“The potential for stagflation in the UK, which faces contraction at the same time as rising prices, presents an overwhelming challenge for government officials and usually sounds the death knell for a nation’s currency.” (The Wall Street Journal, August 25)

“But business groups criticised any move away from nuclear power as impractical and a death knell for Japanese manufacturers, which have already lost much of their competitive edge to cheaper rivals elsewhere in Asia.” (The New York Times, September 20)

“The Arab Spring, which the West hailed as the beginning of a new, more liberal era, tolled the death knell of many of the dictators who ruled with an iron hand . . .” (The Pioneer, India, September 21)

Cliché of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays. Clichés 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.

October 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

Cliche of the Week 110 – Hangs in the Balance

The result could go either way with the future of sport, politics and justice hanging in the balance.

Most contests hang in the balance before they are decided and from the point of view of a participant, there are two possible results: a win or a loss.

“Boston Cricket Club’s top-flight future may hang in the balance . . . but if the Mayflower men are going down, then they’ll go down fighting.” (Boston Standard, Lincolnshire, September 14)

“While a decision about (boxer Mike) Tyson’s visa is yet to be made, the event hangs in the balance.” (New Zealand Herald, September 14)

“With no end in sight to the Nagri land acquisition row, the fate of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ranchi, and National Law University hangs in the balance.” (The Times of India, September 12)

“Judith Gibson Fynney, who has begun a Facebook campaign seeking justice for the vulnerable teenager, said his life hangs in the balance.” (The Irish News, September 11)

“A stable peace is preserved only if diplomacy works, and the entire project of nuclear non-proliferation hangs in the balance. If Obama fails, the world will have turned a disastrous corner back toward war.” (The Boston Globe, September 10)

Cliché of the Week appears in The Australian newspaper Mondays. Clichés 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.

September 25, 2012 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

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