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Quotations about
Media and Journalism

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

Our democracy needs a robust press to hold our leaders accountable and cover the important issues facing our communities. The First Amendment belongs to all of us.

THE PRESS MUST BE FREE. It has always been so, and much evil has been corrected by it.— If Government finds itself annoyed by it, let it examine its own conduct, and it will find the cause,— let it amend it, and it will find the remedy. ~Thomas Erskine, Thomas Paine libel trial, England, 1792

One reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no newspapers. ~Gwendolyn Brooks

Journalism largely consists in saying "Lord Jones is dead" to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive. ~G.K. Chesterton

We can't quite decide if the world is growing worse, or if the reporters are just working harder. ~The Houghton Line, November 1965

On many a road the only vehicle you may meet, of a Sunday, is the newsman's cart, hurrying from hamlet to hamlet with his huge bundles of gaudily covered Sunday newspapers—undertaking to purvey all that the human mind need know or the human soul crave, to that day's date. ~Frederic Jesup Stimson, Jethro Bacon, Of Sandwich, 1902

News is history shot on the wing. ~Gene Fowler, Skyline

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. ~Thomas Jefferson, 1787  [After becoming president, his view of newspapers soured but he still believed in a free press. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

Exaggeration of every kind is as essential to journalism as it is to the dramatic art; for the object of journalism is to make events go as far as possible. Thus it is that all journalists are, in the very nature of their calling, alarmists; and this is their way of giving interest to what they write. Herein they are like little dogs; if anything stirs, they immediately set up a shrill bark. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "On Some Forms of Literature," The Art of Literature: A Series of Essays, translated from German by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891

It was while making newspaper deliveries, trying to miss the bushes and hit the porch, that I first learned the importance of accuracy in journalism. ~Charles Osgood

Newspapers widen the sphere of our sympathies. They make their readers enter into the joys and sorrows of thousands of whom they would else know nothing, and for whom they would otherwise care nothing. But still, journalism is but in the initial stage of its development. As at present conducted, the world is not fairly represented by its newspapers. Life is something better than journals make it out to be. They are too much the records of the crimes that curse, and the casualties that afflict it — the contests of litigants, and the strifes of politicians. Of the sweeter amenities of life the newspaper is far too silent. Therefore, newspapers should be read late in the day. To read the journals in the early morning, is to pollute the stream of the day at its source. ~Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904), "Newspapers," Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, 1862

The newspaper is the second-hand in the clock of history; and it is not only made of baser metal than those which point to the minute and the hour, but it seldom goes right. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "On Some Forms of Literature," The Art of Literature: A Series of Essays, translated from German by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891

Today intimidation of the press is a standard item on the agenda of the organized political right. There are self-appointed monitors who circulate denunciations of articles and television programs that depart from their ideology. ~Anthony Lewis, 1989

Newspapers: dead trees with information smeared on them. ~Horizon, "Electronic Frontier"

I always turn to the sports section first. The sports section records people's accomplishments; the front page nothing but man's failures. ~Earl Warren, quoted in Sports Illustrated, 1968 July 22nd

Hail! mighty Power! that on the lucid page
Unfolds the thought rich with instruction sage,
That opens the gates of Knowledge to mankind,
And drives away the darkness of the mind.
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To the Press"

For wheresoe'er thy light resplendent streams,
Lo! Ignorance retreats before thy beams,
Pale Superstition trembles with dismay,
Freedom expands, and Tyranny gives way.
~Henry Heavisides (1791–1870), "To the Press"

The mercenaries and parasites of the Press, who prostitute its more than royal power, and dishonor a noble profession, will find it easy to mock at things too wonderful for them to understand; for to them the price of a paragraph is more than the value of sincerity. ~H.P. Blavatsky, September 1877, Preface to Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology

The crux is not the publisher's freedom to print; it is rather, the citizen's right to know. ~Arthur Hays Sulzberger, 1956

If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: "President Can't Swim." ~Lyndon B. Johnson

A public man may reasonably esteem it a piece of good fortune to be vigorously attacked in the newspapers. In the first place, it lifts him more prominently into notice. Then, a plausible defence will divide public opinion, while a triumphant vindication will more fully establish him in the popular regards. Even if unable to offer either, the notoriety so acquired will in time soften into a semblance of celebrity, so like its original that it will easily pass for it. Besides, the world is charitable, and will readily forgive old sins in consideration of later virtues. ~Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904), "Suggestions: Public Men," in The Atlantic Monthly, December 1858

The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring. ~Warren Chappell

The more I observe the main effects of a free press, the more convinced am I that, in the modern world, freedom of the press is the principal and, so to say, the constitutive element in freedom. ~Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859)

They kill good trees to put out bad newspapers. ~James G. Watt, quoted in Newsweek, 1982 March 8th

Journalists aren't supposed to praise things. It's a violation of work rules almost as serious as buying drinks with our own money or absolving the CIA of something. ~P.J. O'Rourke

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

If you saw a man drowning and you could either save him or photograph the event... what kind of film would you use? ~Author Unknown

There ain't any news in being good. You might write the doings of all the convents of the world on the back of a postage stamp, and have room to spare. ~Finley Peter Dunne

Journalism is the ability to meet the challenge of filling space. ~Rebecca West

I am unable to understand how a man of honor could take a newspaper in his hands without a shudder of disgust. ~Charles Baudelaire

A newspaper consists of just the same number of words, whether there be any news in it or not. ~Henry Fielding

Journalism is literature in a hurry. ~Matthew Arnold

Burke said there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate more important far than they all. ~Thomas Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-Worship

No news is good news. No journalists is even better. ~Nicolas Bentley

Prevention is better than cure, but it does not get its name in the papers so often. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

The one function that TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were. ~David Brinkley

Harmony seldom makes a headline. ~Silas Bent

A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself. ~Arthur Miller

We live under a government of men and morning newspapers. ~Wendell Phillips

The evening papers print what they do and get away with it because by afternoon the human mind is ruined anyhow. ~Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle

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

Journalists cover words and delude themselves into thinking they have committed journalism. ~Hedrick Smith

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation. ~George Bernard Shaw

You can crush a man with journalism. ~William Randolph Hearst

With all the mass media concentrated in a few hands, the ancient faith in the competition of ideas in the free market seems like a hollow echo of a much simpler day. ~Kingman Brewster, Jr.

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

I fear three newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets. ~Napoleon

You don't realize how little accuracy there is in network TV reporting until they cover a story in your hometown. ~Robert Brault,

If it's called the USA Today, why is all the news from yesterday? BAM. Busted! ~Stephen Colbert

People everywhere confuse
What they read in newspapers with news.
~A.J. Liebling, The New Yorker, 1956 April 7th

During this course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science, are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness, and to sap its safety; they might, indeed, have been corrected by the wholesome punishments reserved and provided by the laws of the several States against falsehood and defamation; but public duties more urgent press on the time of public servants, and the offenders have therefore been left to find their punishment in the public indignation. ~Thomas Jefferson, second inaugural address, 1805 March 4th

I've always said there's a place for the press but they haven't dug it yet. ~Tommy Docherty, 1980

Every newspaper editor owes tribute to the devil. ~Jean de la Fontaine

If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X

"Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead," said Poor Richard, but to-day the remaining one would have to burn up his letters and keep away from the reporters. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor

All newspaper writers have heard that the stuff they compose today has an excellent chance of being used to wrap tomorrow's mackerel. ~Ira Berkow

'A dog bites a man'—that's a story; 'A man bites a dog'—that's a good story... ~Jesse Lynch Williams, "The Old Reporter" (spoken by the character Billy Woods) [saying may have existed before 1899, see]

The secret of successful journalism is to make your readers so angry they will write half your paper for you. ~C.E.M. Joad

Journalism is organized gossip. ~Edward Egglestone

A newspaper, as I'm sure you know, is a collection of supposedly true stories written down by writers who either saw them happen or talked to people who did. These writers are called journalists, and like telephone operators, butchers, ballerinas, and people who clean up after horses, journalists can sometimes make mistakes. ~Lemony Snicket

Literature is the art of writing something that will be read twice; journalism what will be grasped at once. ~Cyril Connolly

The faculty of attention has utterly vanished from the Anglo-Saxon mind, extinguished at its source by the big bayadère of journalism, of the newspaper and the picture magazine which keeps screaming, "Look at me." Illustrations, loud simplifications... bill poster advertising — only these stand a chance. ~Henry James

Television has a real problem. They have no page two. Consequently every big story gets the same play and comes across to the viewer as a really big, scary one. ~Art Buchwald, 1969

If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed. If you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. ~Author unknown

I do not mean to be the slightest bit critical of TV newspeople, who do a superb job, considering that they operate under severe time constraints and have the intellectual depth of hamsters. But TV news can only present the "bare bones" of a story; it takes a newspaper, with its capability to present vast amounts of information, to render the story truly boring. ~Dave Barry

Upon comparing BBC News with CNN: Melodrama is something foreigners do. ~Jslayeruk, "Random points," post after July 2005 London subway bombings

The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow. Bigness means weakness. ~Eric Sevareid, The Press and the People, 1959

Journalism — a profession whose business it is to explain to others what it personally does not understand. ~Lord Northcliffe

The American mass media have achieved what American political might could not: World domination. ~Akbar S. Ahmed

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

The one function TV news performs very well is that when there is no news we give it to you with the same emphasis as if there were. ~David Brinkley

That ephemeral sheet,... the newspaper, is the natural enemy of the book, as the whore is of the decent woman. ~Edmond de Goncourt and Jules de Goncourt, Journal, July 1858

You should always believe all you read in the newspapers, as this makes them more interesting. ~Rose Maccaulay

Everything you read in newspapers is absolutely true, except for that rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge. ~Erwin Knoll

Being a reporter is as much a diagnosis as a job description. ~Anna Quindlen

The hard journalism that covers greed and violence and malevolence — we would almost expect the ink to glimmer red, as does the spilt blood of mankind — but there it is, always staring back at us in cold, fact-black. ~Terri Guillemets

The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything. Except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands. ~Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, 1891

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

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

Freedom of the press in Britain is freedom to print such of the proprietor's prejudices as the advertiser's won't object to. ~Helen Swaffer

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers. ~Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

I don't follow current events past the Industrial Revolution. ~Bones, "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole" (season 5, episode 16, original airdate 2010 April 8th), writing credits: Hanson, Reichs, Lin, Lopata, and Peterson, spoken by the character Temperance Brennan

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Last saved 2021 Jun 04 Fri 10:27 PDT

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