It’s tough out there for journalists. We try to shine the light of truth on the world and give the powerless a voice – and yet, in poll after poll, journos rate little higher in the trustworthiness stakes than politicians and used-car salesmen.
So anyone entering the profession had better get used to incoming four-letter fire.
As a public service announcement, I have compiled the Top 10 most interesting and prevalent insults hurled at members of the Fourth Estate.
Hack Typically used by the unenlightened as a form of abuse, this is a word journos use among ourselves to describe one another. It is a term of respect and affection – not unlike the soldier’s use of the word “grunt” – and is thus water off of a mallard’s back to us.
MSM liberal elitist We’re the people who didn’t see Trump becoming president. D’oh!
Chardonnay-sipping socialists Winners of the Best Headline of the Week at the Sydney Morning Herald during my time were given the choice of two wines as a prize: one white and one red.
Red was almost always chosen, thus rendering the jibe “chardonnay-sipping socialist” obsolete.
“Cabernet-sipping socialists” would be much more accurate.
Volvo Socialist A canard sadly showing its age, seeing how car trends have evolved. I would suggest “solar-panel socialist” in its stead.
Latte-sipping leftie Clearly the public thinks we spend all our time imbibing wine and drinking coffee rather than attending to daily rolling deadlines. This insult is as effective as calling the average journo a member of the “chatterati”.
Balmain basket weaver A phrase coined by Paul Keating to describe lefty, bleeding heart, out-of-touch types. Sadly Balmain is no long the hub of basket weaving – arts and crafts having both spiritually and geographically moved on since then.
And, of course, any true inner-city journalist knows that Balmain is not among the five postcodes that most hacks come from.
Inner-city cabalist There remains a stubborn belief that many of our left-leaning institutions such as the ABC and SBS are run by hooded groups of inner-city cabalists who meet once a month in secret to decide the editorial stance of their institutions.
They are of course incorrect.
I gather they meet once a week.
Paid shill Think climate change is real? Write a bad review of a social media star’s new album? Take a position for or against the government? Have any sort of opinion, really?
You will be seeing this in an email in your inbox some time soon.
In the popular imagination, the “paid shill” can often be seen sipping chardonnay with the dreaded “press release recycler” in some Balmain winery, laughing at the bogan public’s gullibility.
See also: “churnalist”.
Reptile The late Denis Thatcher is believed to be among the first to refer to the champions of the Fourth Estate as reptiles.
It holds pride of place among other zoological descriptions such as “parasite” or “vulture”.
Although personally I would prefer to be referred to as a “Powerful Owl”.
Goat’s cheese curtainer Aka, the curtain of expensive, gourmet and elite cheese that journos – particularly those from the ABC and SBS – live inside.
“Goat’s cheese curtain” was a phrase coined by demographer Bernard Salt, who recently outraged Gen Y by suggested that they could afford to buy houses if perhaps they stopped buying “smashed avocado with crumbled feta on five-grain toasted bread at $22 a pop”.
I await to see how “smashed avocado” will be one day reworked to be used against hacks.
Until then I remain amused rather than offended by the idea of the “goat’s cheese curtain”.
And wonder if I can get some for lunch at my upmarket Balmain cheese shop.
While sadly lacking journo-related insults, my ebook military thriller The Spartan is out now on Amazon.