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#99362 03/25/03 04:23 PM
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vika Offline OP
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When I saw a title of the article in "Scotland on sunday"

"Love or hate Holywood journalists, our real-life hacks are putting their lives on the line"

I though that the article is about

2. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a computer network or file.
(The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000).

to my surprise the article talks about portrayal of journalists in movies and ends in

...spare a thought for hundreds of hacks now "embedded" amongst our armed forces for real .

but why journalists are called hacks? have you ever seen them named like this?


#99363 03/25/03 04:42 PM
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"hack" is a very old word. Reporters and low grade writers were called hacks before there were any computers. I can remember when the earliest computer people called themselves "hackers" as a bit of false modesty, and a clever solution to a problem in machine language was called a hack, long before any bastards started writing malicious code.


#99364 03/25/03 04:49 PM
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In some circles, the term "cracker" is prefered for those who maliciously attempt to take over others' machines.


#99365 03/25/03 04:57 PM
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I use hack more generally to mean any kind of amateur attempt to solve a problem, especially when the solution is awkward.

The pie crust is a bit of a hack job, I had to repair a big hole with a spare piece of pastry.

(I've never made a pie in my life, so the above sentence is quite plausible.)

Most examples I can think of seem to use "a bit of" before "hack" and sometimes "job" after it.


#99366 03/25/03 05:47 PM
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but why journalists are called hacks

Maybe, because they hack away at our patience at times, vika.
I have always associatd this term with the print media, although, certainly, a lot of the news channel reporters seem more deserving of this epithet.

It is probably related to hackneyed. A journalist who is prone to repetitive bursts of insipid writing, would probably qualify a hack.


#99367 03/26/03 12:28 AM
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Hackneyed . . . any relation to the hackney (horse drawn)cab, I wonder? I don't know if you can use the word in the present tense any other way.
Or could hack journalism be related to hacking away at something in a rough,unskilled way.


#99368 03/26/03 12:45 AM
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Not to cloud things up, here's the 'quick definitions' list from Onelook:

"Quick definitions (Hack)


noun: a saddle horse used for transportation rather than sport etc.
noun: a horse kept for hire
noun: an old or over-worked horse
noun: one who works hard at boring tasks
noun: a mediocre and disdained writer
noun: a car driven by a person whose job is to take passengers where they want to go in exchange for money
noun: a politician who belongs to a small clique that controls a political party for private rather than public ends
verb: informal: be able to manage or manage successfully (Example: "I can't hack it anymore")
verb: fix a computer program piecemeal until it works (Example: "I'm not very good at hacking but I'll give it my best")
verb: cough spasmodically (Example: "The patient with emphysema is hacking all day")
verb: kick on the shins; in rugby
verb: kick on the arms; in basketball
verb: cut away
verb: significantly cut up a manuscript
verb: cut with a tool"


#99369 03/26/03 02:11 AM
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Wow, I never realized there were that many def.'s of the word hack! Thanks, WW. I couldn't help wondering whether they all came from the same root. The only etymology I found in AHD is: Middle English hakken, from Old English -haccian. , so possibly it covers all of them. I was a little disappointed; I was expecting something more like what I found when I looked up the adjacent word hackamore: ETYMOLOGY: Alteration of Spanish jáquima, halter, from Old Spanish xaquima, from Arabic akma, bit of a bridle, from akama, to bridle. Hey--do you-all reckon the Arabs used akama when a person bridled?



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