Quotes


“... It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it.”
- Fisher Ames



“... Let's see the full quote from Fisher Ames: We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press. It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary. It follows the substance like its shade; but while a man walks erect, he may observe that his shadow is almost always in the dirt. It corrupts, it deceives, it inflames. It strips virtue of her honors, and lends to faction its wildfire and its poisoned arms, and in the end is its own enemy and the usurper's ally, It would be easy to enlarge on its evils. They are in England, they are here, they are everywhere. It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it.”
- Fisher Ames



“... people notice differences and expect every difference in form to convey some difference in meaning.”
- Stephen Pinker



“... the full quote from Stephen Pinker: Consistency for its own sake can be a good thing. There is no logical reason to drive on the right-hand side of the road as opposed to the left-hand side, but there are good excellent reasons for everyone to drive on the same side, whichever it is. In the case of language, people notice differences and expect every difference in form to convey some difference in meaning. A gratuitous change in diction or style can throw a reader off.”
- Stephen Pinker



“... there are 3 cardinal rules in the newsroom: Never trust an editor, never trust an editor, and never trust an editor.”
- Edna Buchanan



“... this is Buchanan's full quote: For sanity and survival, there are three cardinal rules in the newsroom: Never trust an editor, never trust an editor, and never trust an editor.”
- Edna Buchanan



“A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.”
- Anonymous



“A curious journalist - those words should be redundant, but, alas, I have to tell you they are not.”
- Charles Peters



“A democracy survives when its citizens have access to trustworthy and impartial sources of information, when it can discern lies from truth. Take this away and a democracy dies. The fusion of news and entertainment, the rise of a class of celebrity journalists on television who define reporting by their access to the famous and the powerful, the retreat by many readers into the ideological ghettos of the Internet and the ruthless drive by corporations to destroy the traditional news business are leaving us deaf, dumb and blind.”
- Chris Hedges



“A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.”
- Arthur Miller



“A journalist is a machine that converts coffee into copy.”
- Michael Ryan Elgan



“A journalist is a reporter out of a job.”
- Mark Twain



“A man has only to murder a series of wives in a new way to become known to millions of people who have never heard of Homer.”
- Robert Lynd



“A newspaper cannot really congratulate itself on having got all the facts impartially when it has quoted at length from two uninformed idiots on opposing sides of an issue.”
- A.J. Wiggins, former editor & publisher, The Ellsworth (Maine) American



“A newspaper is made on the desk.”
- Carr Van Anda



“A powerful agent is the right word: it lights the reader's way and makes it plain.”
- Mark Twain



“Achilles exists only through Homer. Take away the art of writing from this world, and you will probably take away its glory. ”
- F. Rene de Chateaubriand



“Advertisements ... contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”
- Thomas Jefferson



“Advertisements ... this is Jefferson's full quote: I read no newspaper now but Ritchie's, and in that chiefly the advertisements, for they contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.”
- Thomas Jefferson



“After all is said and done, a hell lot of a lot more is said than done.”
- H.L. Mencken



“All of us learn to write by the second grade, then most of us go on to other things. ”
- Bobby Knight



“An honest ... This is Bogart's full line of dialogue: An honest, fearless press is the public's first protection against gangsterism - local or international”
- Humphrey Bogart in “Deadline, USA”



“An honest, fearless press is the public's first protection against gangsterism ...”
- Humphrey Bogart in "Deadline, USA"



“Any person who doesn't read at least one well-written country newspaper is not truly informed.”
- Will Rogers



“Anyone who edits their own copy has a fool for an editor.”
- Donald Davis



“Because I grew up in a family and a neighborhood that had no voice, I have tried in some small way to be a voice for those whose feelings are too rarely heard, or even expressed.  I hope this was not presumptuous, and I hope that I can continue to do that, for in today's neighborhoods there are also large numbers who do not 'fit.' I am still--foolishly, perhaps--enough of an idealist to believe that the media are too often the only ones in town to help redress the grievances of those who have nobody to lobby for them in the corridors of public and private power. I still believe that it is our job to raise hell responsibly and comfort the afflicted, to focus public attention on issues and events that people in power would just as soon see disappear from public discourse.”
- Alan Lupo



“Being a reporter is as much a diagnosis as a job description.”
- Anna Quindlen



“Consistent style prevents presentation from getting in the way of content.”
- Stephen Pinker



“Constructing ... This is Holm's full line of dialogue: Constructing passive sentences is a way of concealing your own testicles, lest someone cut them off.”
- Sir Ian Holm in "The Treatment"



“Constructing passive sentences is a way of concealing your own testicles ...”
- Sir Ian Holm in "The Treatment"



“Democracy only works if people know what's going on. Journalism is how they know.”
- Bea Zeeck



“Dip your pen into your arteries and write.”
- William Allen White



“Do it because I'm the editor.”
- Robbie Robertson



“Don't lie. We're in the truth business. You can manipulate people, but don't lie.”
- Eric Nalder



“Don't use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
- Mark Twain



“Editing is deciding what you want to say and how you want to say it.”
- Deborah Gump



“Editor: A person employed on a newspaper whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.”
- Elbert Hubbard



“Every journalist has a novel inside, which is an excellent place for it. ”
- Russell Lynes



“Every newspaper editor owes tribute to the devil.”
- Jean de la Fontaine



“Every once in a while, there comes a story. A story that blows your mind. One where you know you've made a difference. That's what makes it all worthwhile. That and the anticipation. It's addictive, because you never know when it will happen, but when it does, nothing in the world is as important.”
- Edna Buchanan, "Margin of Error"



“Everyone has a magic button. Our role as reporters is to find it and push it.”
- Adage



“Everywhere I go, I'm asked if the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.”
- Flannery O'Connor



“Facing the press is more difficult than bathing a leper.”
- Mother Teresa



“First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing.”
- Kurt Vonnegut



“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”
- A.J. Liebling



“Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of (achieving) a free society. ”
- Felix Frankfurter



“Get your facts first, and then you can distort 'em as much as you please.”
- Mark Twain



“Half ... have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.”
- Gore Vidal



“Half ... This is Gore Vidal's full quote: Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half”
- Gore Vidal



“Harmony seldom makes a headline.”
- Silas Bent



“I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.”
- Gandhi



“I do not take a single newspaper, nor read one a month, and I feel myself infinitely the happier for it.”
- Thomas Jefferson



“I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
- Will Rogers



“I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets.”
- Napoleon



“I have ... This is Gen. Pace's full quote: I don't necessarily like all your questions. But I have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and a free press is absolutely vital to the freedom of this country. There is no freedom in any country around the world that does not have a free press. If you were to push me to pick between a free press and a strong military, I would pick the free press. You need them both. But I can tell you, despite the fact that at times the questions have not been comfortable, I have considered it a privilege to participate in the dialogue.”
- Marine Gen. Peter Pace



“I have sworn to uphold the Constitution ... and a free press is absolutely vital to the freedom of this country.”
- Marine Gen. Peter Pace



“I never write metropolis for seven cents because I can get the same price for city.”
- Mark Twain



“I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.”
- Frank Lloyd Wright



“I've always said there's a place for the press but they haven't dug it yet.”
- Tommy Docherty



“If I could think, maybe I wouldn't write.”
- Scott Spencer



“If I had my choice, I would kill every reporter in the world, but I am sure we would be getting reports from hell before breakfast.”
- William Tecumseh Sherman



“If I have to do all this superficial crap you've assigned me, I need time to do it in depth.”
- Jon Carroll



“If more journalists dressed with flair, maybe newspapers wouldn't be so dull.”
- Brenda Starr



“If the phrase is not affecting the reader, what's it doing there? Make it do its job or cut it without mercy or remorse.”
- Isaac Asimov



“If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”
- Mark Twain



“If you re-read your work, you can find on re-reading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by re-reading and editing.”
- William Safire



“If you want to write, you write. Talent is simply not enough.”
- Jane Yolen



“In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right.”
- Ellen Goodman



“In taking care with language, we take care of ourselves.”
- Bret Stephens



“In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled.”
- Paul Eldridge



“It doesn't matter how Webbie you are, if you can't report, it doesn't matter.”
- Leonard Downie



“It is a newspaper's duty to print the news and raise hell.”
- Chicago Times



“It is curious and interesting to notice what an attraction a fussy, mincing, nickel-plated word has for you.”
- Mark Twain



“It takes two to lie, Marge. One to lie and one to listen.”
- Homer Simpson



“It was sound English before you decayed it. Sell it to the museum.”
- Mark Twain



“It's all storytelling, you know. That's what journalism is all about.”
- Tom Brokaw



“It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal the neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.”
- Unknown



“It's amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day just exactly fits in the newspaper. ”
- Jerry Seinfield



“Journalism can only be literature when it is passionate.”
- Marguerite Duras



“Journalism is literature in a hurry.”
- Matthew Arnold



“Journalism is organized gossip.”
- Edward Egglestone



“Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space.”
- Rebecca West



“Journalism largely consists in saying 'Lord Jones is dead' to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.”
- G.K. Chesterton



“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you're at it.”
- Horace Greeley



“Journalists do not live by words alone, although sometimes they have to eat them.”
- Adlai E. Stevenson



“Knowledge of how the world works is the special province of copy editors.”
- Bob Giles



“Language does our thinking for us. ”
- Kenneth Burke



“Look, then, into thine own heart and write!”
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”
- Ernest Hemingway



“News is history shot on the wing”
- Gene Fowler, Skyline



“Newspapers are .. This is Shaw's full quote: Newspapers are unable, seemingly to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization”
- George Bernard Shaw



“Newspapers are unable ... to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization.”
- George Bernard Shaw



“Newspapers: Dead trees with information smeared on them.”
- Horizon "Electronic Frontier"



“No news is good news, except when you're doing Page One”
- Pam Robinson



“No news is good news. No journalists is even better.”
- Nicolas Bentley



“No wonder the newspaper is rotten. We need more drunkards.”
- Edward G. Robinson in "Five Star Final"



“Now, I'll bet  there isn't a man here who can spell 'pterodactyl,' not even the prisoner at the bar. I'd like to hear him try once--but not in public, for it's too near Sunday, when all extravagant histrionic entertainments are barred.”
- Mark Twain



“On these days, writers whoop when words, thoughts and intent come together right; and teachers glow like the little flickering light bulbs that sometimes appear above that kid in the fourth row. This morning I found this glowworm in my email: “You may be interested to find that your class has made me think a little bit about working for the newspaper. It sounds like a fun job! but that would require knowing what was going on in the world, not one of my strengths (but I’m sure you already noticed that. haha). . . I prefer the logical to the illogical anyway, thus I’m an engineer. Your class has really caused me to question most everything in the news. I think you are succeeding in your task of teaching us to think about ‘How we know what we think we know?’”
- E.B. White



“Once a newspaper touches a story, the facts are lost forever, even to the protagonists.”
- Norman Mailer



“Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light.”
- Thomas Jefferson



“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”
- Thomas Jefferson



“Paper dolls in the paper! At least editors have figured out what it takes to get readers!”
- Brenda Starr



“People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.”
- A. J. Liebling



“Political language ... This is Orwell's full quote: Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
- George Orwell



“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable ...”
- George Orwell



“Punctuation is the sound of your voice on paper.”
- Joseph Collignan



“Put it to them briefly, so they will read it ... and, above all, accurately, so they will be guided by its light.”
- Joseph Pulitzer



“Put it to them briefly, so they will read it; clearly, so they will appreciate it; picturesquely, so they will remember it; and, above all, accurately, so they will be guided by its light.”
- Joseph Pulitzer



“Rage is ... This is Breslin's full quote: Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns for newspapers”
- Jimmy Breslin



“Rage is the only quality which has kept me, or anybody I have ever studied, writing columns ...”
- Jimmy Breslin



“Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.”
- Christopher Morley



“Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read.”
- Frank Zappa



“Save exclamation marks for the end of the war in Vietnam or the end of the world, whichever comes first.”
- John Bremner



“Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all.”
- Winston Churchill



“So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with.”
- John Locke



“Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.”
- T. S. Eliot



“Speak truth to power.”
- Milan Kundera



“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
- Mark Twain



“Take my ham away, take away my eggs, even my Chili, but leave me my newspaper.”
- Will Rogers



“The 'well-informed citizenry' is in danger of becoming the 'well-amused audience.'”
- Al Gore



“The badness of bad writing is never visible to the bad writer.”
- John B. Bremner



“The credibility of the work depends on copy editors. I would argue with the copy desk, but I would thank them more.”
- Bill Kovach



“The dash ... is the Kato Kaelin of punctuation marks. Always there. Lying around. So generic.”
- Roy Peter Clark



“The dash ... This is Clark's full quote: The hyphen is the no-see-um of the language landscape, barely visible when alone, but pestilent in swarms on the page. Moreover, the hyphen is hardly ever necessary. I say 'hardly ever' because when I looked up a certain word at the beginning of this paragraph, I was chagrined to see that no-see-um had been cobbled together not by one but T-W-O hyphens. … When redundant or misplaced, the hyphen is more unsightly wrinkle than ornament. All writers I know underestimate the value of the visual aesthetics of the page. Enlightened writers should concern themselves with typeface, type size, white space, format and even with the visual effects of punctuation. I asked my colleague Sara Quinn, a brilliant page designer, which punctuation mark she found most beautiful. 'The umlaut,' she said, having spent way too much time with those double dotty Swedes. 'Mine's the tilde' ~ I offered. 'It's so wavy. So sexy.' I can't explain the philippic that then poured from my lips. First against the Brits: 'I hate it the way they leave punctuation outside quotation marks. Periods and commas look so cold and lonely out there. I think they deserve to be brought inside, comforted and embraced.' Then against the semicolon: 'I hate the way it looks. Like a colon that's had a polyp removed.' Then against the dash: 'It's the Kato Kaelin of punctuation marks. Always there. Lying around. So generic. So available.' ”
- Roy Peter Clark



“The difference between burlesque and the newspapers is that the former never pretended to be performing a public service by exposure.”
- I.F. Stone



“The duty of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
- Adage



“The first and ... This is Hemingway's full quote: The first and most important thing for writers today is to strip language clean, to lay it bare down to the bone.”
- Ernest Hemingway



“The first and most important thing of all ... is to strip language clean, to lay it bare to the bones.”
- Ernest Hemingway



“The First Law of Journalism: to confirm existing prejudice, rather than contradict it.”
- Alexander Cockburn



“The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
- Albert Einstein



“The lyf so short, the craft so long to learn.”
- Chaucer



“The media only report stupid or careless answers, not stupid or unfair questions.”
- Colin Powell



“The more you get the facts right on breaking news, the less chance there is for people to lie.”
- Kate Webb



“The point of good writing is knowing when to stop.”
- L.M. Montgomery



“The practice of journalism is two-fold. On the editorial side, it is an applied art; on the publishing side, an economic or business enterprise. Newspapermen, as a rule, seek to avoid dignifying themselves or the vocation with the term, ‘profession,’ but of this we are certain: the equipment of a well-qualified journalist consists of character, native ability, acquired technical skills and a liberal education. His tasks are never easy or simple. The manner in which he bears his public responsibilities, either as publisher or editor, is socially of great importance. If he lives up to the demands put upon him, we should be willing to admit him to professional standing, regardless of how lightly he refers to his job as a craft or even as a 'game.'”
- Ralph D. Casey



“The press is the enemy.”
- Richard Nixon



“The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.”
- Mark Twain



“The waste basket is a writer's best friend.”
- Isaac Bashevis Singer



“The window to the world can be covered by a newspaper.”
- Stanislaw Lee



“There is no moratorium in journalism for checking it out yourself.”
- William F. Woo



“There’s one word that exists in every language on the face of the Earth and in every society since man began to speak. And the word is truth. And in every language it means exactly the same thing. Truth is . . . what you get other people to believe.”
- Tommy Smothers



“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”
- Henry Ford



“To a newspaperman, a human being is an item with skin wrapped around it.”
- Fred Allen



“To love words, you must first know what they are.”
- John B. Bremner



“Trying to be ... This is Bagdikian's full quote: Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's 'St. Matthew's Passion' on a ukulele: The instrument is too crude for the work, for the audience and for the performer.”
- Ben Bagdikian



“Trying to be a first-rate reporter ... is like trying to play Bach's 'St. Matthew's Passion' on a ukulele.”
- Ben Bagdikian



“USA Today ... This is Letterman's full quote: USA Today has come out with a new survey - apparently, three out of every four people make up 75% of the population”
- David Letterman



“USA Today has come out with a new survey ... 3 out of every 4 people make up 75% of the population.”
- David Letterman



“Use the right word, not its second cousin.”
- Mark Twain



“Vigorous writing is concise.”
- William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style



“Vigorous writing is concise. (The full quote continues ...) A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”
- William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style



“We don't hire editors anymore; we hire content strategists.”
- Jack Griffin



“We journalists don't have to step on roaches. All we have to do is turn on the kitchen light and watch the critters scurry.”
- P.J. O'Rourke



“We live under a government of men and morning newspapers.”
- Wendell Phillips



“When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news.”
- Charles Anderson Dana



“When I say 'serve you better,' I mean 'increase our profits.' We newspapers are very big on profits these days. ”
- Dave Barry



“Words are sacred ... If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
- Tom Stoppard



“Words are sacred ... This is Stoppard's full quote: Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.”
- Tom Stoppard



“You can crush a man with journalism.”
- William Randolph Hearst



“You don't know the dark recesses of someone's soul until you try to edit them.”
- Phil Bronstein



“You have to be a pineapple. You have to have a hundred eyes.”
- Photographer Dith Pran



“You know what people use these for? They roll them up and swat their puppies for wetting on the rug - they spread them on the floor when they're painting the walls - they wrap fish in them - shred them up and pack their two-bit china in them when they move - or else they pile up in the garbage until an inspector declares them a fire hazard! But this also happens to be a couple of more things! It's got print on it that tells stories that hundreds of good men all over the world have broken their backs to get. It gives a lot of information to a lot of people who wouldn't have known about it if we hadn't taken the trouble to tell them. It's the sum total of the work of a lot of guys who don't quit. It's a newspaper . . . and it only costs 10 cents, that's all. But if you only read the comic section or the want ads - it's still the best buy for your money in the world. ”
- William Conrad, actor, playing a crusty city editor in "30," 1959



“Young poets are advised by their elders to avoid the practice of journalism as they would wet socks and gin before breakfast.”
- Archibald MacLeish



““The words are all there, J.J., we just have to get them in the right order.” ”
- Monty Python skit


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