How churnalists make us solastalgic for the good old days

We’ve invented  a lot of ghastly new words and phrases in recent decades: ugly, bland, abstract, meaningless jargon. So it’s good to come across some colourful new words on Paul McFedries’s website Wordspy:


Churnalism is what so-called journalists do when, instead of doing their own investigations, they churn out articles derived from press releases and wire stories.

Paul McFedries cites Nigel Green, in Media are increasingly relying on police handouts as a basis for crime stories (The Guardian, December 7, 2009), who wrote: “Last year, I highlighted for MediaGuardian how Northumbria police hold back serious crimes from the media. Meanwhile, the force’s £1.5m-a-year corporate communications department pumps out more press releases on falling crime rates, clampdowns, raids, initiatives and other stories designed to produce positive PR. The result, I believe, is that most crime reporting in the north-east is now little more than churnalism.”

The design for a skyscraper in Canada


As populations rise and space runs out, it’s proposed that crops could be grown in high-rise buildings, called farmscrapers.

This vertical farming would use hydro- and aeroponic systems in which little water would be needed to raise the crops.

A Google search yields nearly 8,000 results. The whole idea of high-rise crop-growing has also led to the poetically suggestive term sky farming.

late-breaking gay

This is someone who ‘comes out’ at a relatively late stage.
Ralph Slovenko, in Psychiatry in Law/Law in Psychiatry, notes: “Of increasing frequency are the ‘late-breaking gays’ who abandon their spouse and children for a gay partner. It is depicted in films, in Broadway plays, and on the Oprah Winfrey show.”


The Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht came up with this term in a 2004 essay. He defines solastalgia as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault … a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home”.

More briefly, “Whereas nostalgia is homesickness for a place, solastalgia is a yearning for the way a loved place used to be.” (Des Houghton, ‘Pain has a brand new label’, The Courier Mail, February 27, 2010).

The word combines the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root algia (pain).

It’s more specific than eco anxiety. One example is the effect on local people of large-scale, open-cut coal mining in the Upper Hunter Valley of New South Wales – a sense of powerlessness and lack of control.

It’s good to see that people can invent more or less elegant words in an age that comes up with terms such as suboptimal outcome and access controller. The latter, by the way, was once called a doorman.

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