‘The plight of old drinks hacks is a scandal – we must act now…’

Pic: Rob 'old vine' Johnson

Influential figures from across the drinks industry have come together to highlight awareness of what they call ‘an impending international disaster’.

The Venerable and Ancient Journalists Aren’t Zeroes League (VAJAZZLE) says its mission is to ‘raise awareness of the value and worth of old drinks journalists before it’s too late.’

Younger replacements

‘Old drinks writers should be a treasured resource,’ said the group’s founder Gerry Atric, ‘particularly in their own minds. Yet all over the world, they’re being pulled out of columns that they’ve had for decades and being replaced by younger versions.’

VAJAZZLE describes the situation as a ‘tragedy’, with many journalists struggling to come to terms with buying their own drinks.

‘Many old hacks had no idea they had to pay for alcohol,’ says Atric, ‘and several have been arrested for shoplifting.’

Quality not quantity

The problem, according to VAJAZZLE is the perceived lack of productivity of older writers.

‘It’s true that younger journalists, bloggers and influencers naturally throw out a lot more words, tweets and videos,’ said Atric. ‘But this isn’t about quantity – it’s about quality.

‘Even though some obviously don’t have much of that either.’ 

Nuance and intensity

The group claims that just a few sentences from an old hack can contain more nuance and complexity than an entire article from a younger writer.

‘Having written the same columns every year for 30 years, they’ve really been able to hone their craft,’ says Atric. ‘Their words are so much more intense, concentrated and complex.

‘At least, they are once they’ve been fact-checked, rewritten and had the inappropriate content removed.’

Climate change resistant

Old drinks writers have often had the same writing gigs for decades which makes them particularly well adapted to their environment. 

‘Their deep roots give them access to elements that younger vines don’t,’ says Atric. ‘Specifically money.

‘After years of easy speaking gigs and selling unwanted samples, they’re much better at surviving dry economic spells than younger versions.’

More lunches

VAJAZZLE is putting together what it calls an ‘Old Hacks Charter’ that it wants to see adopted worldwide.

Suggestions include ‘no more than one column a month’, ‘no social media commitments’ and ‘a good expenses paid lunch on a regular basis’. 

But the group also wants to see an officially agreed age-classification to accompany each writer’s work. 

Official stamp

With many byeline pictures 30 years out of date VAJAZZLE believes that an official ‘old hack’ stamp for any writers over 50 would help readers to appreciate the sheer levels of wisdom at work.

It could also explain why the writer hates any trends that have appeared since the millennium such as orange wines, American IPA and craft gin.

‘A charter like this worked in raising awareness of old vines,’ said Atric.

‘So if we can save one gnarly set of unproductive ancients, I’m sure we can do it again.’