In as fine a collection of stereotypes as can be found, the Associated Press furnished a story on July 14 covering the annual DefCon hacker get together in Las Vegas. It compressed at least one hoary cliche into each paragraph. Here is a summary of them. The lead sentence: "They're self-described nerds . . . " Then, in the next sentence, "These mostly gawky, mostly male teen-agers . . . also are the country's smartest and slyest computer hackers." After another fifty words, "These are the guys that got beat up in high school and this is their chance to get back . . . " Add a sprinkling of the obvious: "This is a subculture of computer technology . . ." Stir in a paraphrased hacker slogan: "Hacking comes from an intellectual desire to figure out how things work . . ." A whiff of crime and the outlaw weirdo: "Few of these wizards will identify themselves because they fear criminal prosecution . . . a 25-year-old security analyst who sports a dog collar and nose ring, is cautious about personal information." Close with two bromides that reintroduce the stereotype: "Hackers are not evil people. Hackers are kids." As a simple satirical exercise, Crypt News rewrote the Associated Press story as media coverage of a convention of newspaper editors. It looked like this: LAS VEGAS -- They're self-described nerds, dressing in starched white shirts and ties. These mostly overweight, mostly male thirty, forty and fiftysomethings are the country's best known political pundits, gossip columnists and managing editors. On Friday, more than 1,500 of them gathered in a stuffy convention hall to swap news and network. "These are the guys who ate goldfish and dog biscuits at frat parties in college and this is their time to strut," said Dredd Williams, whose company, Hill & Knowlton, wants to enlist the best editors and writers to do corporate p.r. "This is a subculture of corporate communicators," said Williams. Journalism comes from an intellectual desire to be the town crier and a desire to show off how much you know, convention-goers said. Circulation numbers and ad revenue count for more than elegant prose and an expose on the President's peccadillos gains more esteem from ones' peers than klutzy jeremiads about corporate welfare and white-collar crime. One group of paunchy editors and TV pundits were overheard joking about breaking into the lecture circuit, where one well-placed talk to a group of influential CEOs or military leaders could earn more than many Americans make in a year. Few of these editors would talk on the record for fear of professional retribution. Even E.J., a normally voluble 45-year-old Washington, D.C., editorial writer, was reticent. "Columnists aren't just people who write about the political scandal of the day," E.J. said cautiously. "I like to think of columnists as people who take something apart that, perhaps, didn't need taking apart." "We are not evil people. We're middle-aged, professional entertainers in gray flannel suits."