Journalism Quotes

If you like this, you may also enjoy Journalism Movies and Journalism Books.

You may also enjoy Barbara Schmidt's remarkable Mark Twain site includes a full page of Twain's newspaper quotes. I could repeat all of them here, or you could just look at that site.

Shortly after discovering the Twain quotes, I became interested in Twain's speech, License of the Press. I worked Google for two hours, but couldn't find this public domain writing anywhere in electronic form. The cheapest print version was $10. None of the Kindle collections included it. Eventually, I was able to find a digitized version, which I have cleaned up and placed on my site as a service to others interested in writings about journalism: Mark Twain's License of the Press speech.

Journalist César G. Soriano (who worked at USA Today at one time) compiled All the Journalism quotes fit to print. The site disappeared and I recovered it from the Internet Archive. I attempted to reach Mr. Soriano, but was unable to find contact information from him. If he, or anyone associated with him, wants the page down, please contact me at pes-at-sign-schindler-dot-org.

Revision History

And now a word from your proprietor:

I was discussing this web page with my wife, who noted that every quotation on it was negative. "Hasn't anyone ever said anything positive about journalism?" To get the ball rolling, I have collected some of my favorite newspaper declarations of principle (including one fictional one). I would love to add more, if you'd be kind enough to share them; you can find my email address at the bottom of this page.


There is a terrific disadvantage in not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily. Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn't write it, and even though we disapprove, there isn't any doubt that we could not do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.
--John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA.

Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed — and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian lawmaker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment, the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply ‘give the public what it wants,’ but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion..
--John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA. The President and the Press: Address Before the American Newspaper Publishers Association

Free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
--Albert Camus (1913-1960) French novelist, essayist and dramatist

News Corporation, today, reaches people at home and at work... when they're thinking... when they're laughing... and when they are making choices that have enormous impact. The unique potential.. and duty.. of a media company are to help its audiences connect to the issues that define our time.
--Rupert Murdoch

As with all politically lead governments, foreign investment is the slowest in the media section. Politicians are somewhat paranoid about the media but we still think it's worthwhile.
--Rupert Murdoch

All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. we can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.
--William Bernbach, of DDB Needham Worldwide, 1989.

...opening up a newspaper is the key to looking classy and smart. Never mind the bronze-plated stuff about the role of the press in a democracy -- a newspaper, kiddo, is about Style.
-- Garrison Keillor
Tribune Media Syndicate, 10 Jan 2007

The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
-- Thomas Jefferson
letter to Edward Carrington, 1787.

It will be my earnest aim that The New York Times give the news, all the news, in concise and attractive form, in language that is permissible in good society, and give it as early if not earlier, than it can be learned through any other reliable medium; to give the news impartially, without fear or favor, regardless of party, sect, or interest involved; to make of the columns of The New York Times a forum for the consideration of all questions of public importance, and to that end to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion.
-- Adoph Ochs
August 18, 1896, New York Times

Money is the great power today. Men sell their souls for it. Women sell their bodies for it. Others worship it. The money power has grown so great that the issue of all issues is whether the corporation shall rule this country or the country shall again rule the corporations.

--Joseph Pulitzer
December 1878, St. Louis Dispatch

There is room in this great and growing city for a journal that is not only cheap but bright, not only bright but large, not only large but truly democratic--dedicated to the cause of the people rather than that of the purse potentates--devoted more to the news of the New than the Old World--that will expose all fraud and sham, fight all public evils and abuses--that will sever and battle for the people with earnest sincerity.

--Joseph Pulitzer
May 1883, New York World

Put it before 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

I. I will provide the people of this city with a daily newspaper that will tell all the news honestly.

II. I will also provide them with a fighting and tireless champion of their rights as citizens and human beings.
--fictional Charles Foster Kane II
New York Inquirer (movie Citizen Kane, 1941)

The [Oregon] Journal in its head and heart will stand for the people, be truly Democratic and free from political entanglements and machinations, believing in the principles that promise the greatest good to the greatest number--to ALL MEN, regardless of race, creed or previous condition of servitude... It will be a fair newspaper, not a dull and selfish sheet...
-- Samuel Jackson
July 23, 1902, Oregon Journal

In journalistic débuts of this kind many talk of principle-political principle, party principle-as a sort of steel trap to catch the public. We ... disdain ... all principle, as it is called, all party, all politics. Our only guide shall be good, sound, practical common sense, applicable to the business and bosoms of men engaged in every-day life.
-- James Gordon Bennett
1835, New York Herald

Preserve your independence of all demagogues and place-hunters and never submit to their dictation; write boldly and tell the truth fearlessly; criticize whatever is wrong, and denounced whatever is rotten in the administration of your local and state affairs, no matter how much it may offend the guilty or wound the would-be leaders of your party...Make an earnest and conscientious journal; establish its reputation for truth and reliability, frankness and independence. Never willfully deceive the people, or trifle with their confidence. Show that your journal is devoted to the advocacy and promotion of their temporal interests and moral welfare.
--Joseph Medill
May 1869, Chicago Tribune, from a speech give in Indianapolis to editors and publishers

The philosophical basis on which a newspaper rests is extremely important. Why is it published? Only to turn a profit? Or does it have another purpose? The answer is yes, our newspapers have philosophical roots. What has been this unique character? For one, a caring about the way things are for the ordinary person, caring about the way the world is, the way the state is, the way the city is...The first Bee was founded by men who had a cause, who fervently believed in a just society. It cared about the things that would make this new community a just society - affordable bank interest rates, land for settlers, an honest court system, cheap electricity when it arrived and clean water, trees and parks, good schools and fair treatment for the ordinary man.
--James Briggs McClatchy
Sacramento Bee, address to editors and publishers in 1993

  • Publish and be damned
  • Print the news and raise hell

--Traditional newspaper credos

Journalism is a noble calling. The working journalist is to report, write, and explain in accordance with the highest standards of the profession.
--World Journalism Institute

And I say to you, whether you do environmental reporting or some other kind of journalism, and whether you practice journalism here in the U.S. or in some other place, please keep doing it and doing it well. Despite everything, journalism remains a noble calling.
-- Jim Risser, director emeritus of the Knight Fellowships.


I have long thought that his [Rupert Murdoch's] social philosophy was contained in his cartoon show, The Simpsons: all politicians and public officials are crooks, and the masses are a vast lumpen proletariat of deluded and exploitable blowhards.

--Conrad Black, once again a free man, Oct. 2010

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, newspaper humor columnist and author, Dave Barry is from Mars and Venus, p. 219, 1997.

Too strong a media emphasis on death and violence can lead to despair.
--Dali Lama

Dealing with the media is more difficult that bathing a leper
--Mother Teresa

... the British media [are] as untroubled by logical inconsistency as they are by a shortage of facts, lack of knowledge, or deficiencies in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

...The British press... [claimed that Tony] Blair was simply Bush's poodle -- a favorite phrase, bewilderingly popular, although it made no sense -- and that he was ignoring the will of the British people. Considering the hacks had spent Blair's first six years in office condemning him for relying on focus groups and opinion polls for his policies -- in other words, paying attention to nothing but the will of the people, or at least their whims -- that seemed a little rich to me, but as I said, logical consistency has never figured highly in the British media's scale of values.
--Larry King, an American journalist in London, May, 2007

A good newspaper is never nearly good enough but a lousy newspaper is a joy forever. [sometimes misquoted as "bad newspaper"]
-- Garrison Keillor
That Old 'Picayune-Moon Harper's September 1990

For years now, Martin [Amis] has had a contentious relationship with British journalists, whom he likens to mullahs. "They whip up hysteria," he explained. "Journalists are more powerful now than they've ever been, and we all know what power does. Anyone who disses the media is really asking for it. But it is the case that the journalists are what they are - world famous for vulgarity, alcoholism, spite."
-Charles McGrath, Sunday New York Times Magazine, April 22, 2007

I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying-it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off.
-Molly Ivins

Every word I wrote was ephemeral, as evanescent as baby's breath, and had the shelf life of fish.
-Paul E. Schindler Jr. (me) May 19, 2006, describing his lifetime journalism output in a letter to A.R. Gurney Jr.

If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you'll eventually be accused of treason.
-Mort Sahl, American standup comedian, from Mort Sahl at the Hungry I (not really a journalism quote, but a hard to find quote I wanted to preserve)

One problem I have with reporters is that to a reporter following me around, my untimely death wouldn't be a tragedy, but a professional opportunity.
Alternatively, at a dinner with President Clinton, Keillor is reported to have said the President had to
"sit and eat fish with a group of people who would regard your downfall as a professional opportunity."
-Garrison Keillor, NPR (from memory by a correspondent)

Every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.
--Janet Malcolm, The Journalist and the Murderer, 1990

Anonymous sources are to journalism what silicon enhancements are to the feminine figure; they look impressive to the gullible, but something doesn't feel right.
--Larry King, an American journalist in London, August, 2005

Nobody beats a bunch of journalists for inflating their rather mundane straightforward chores with a lot more melodrama and self-importance than the job should be asked to contain.
--Larry King, an American journalist in London, August, 2005

... Don [Hewitt, 60 Minutes exec producer] told me, "You have set broadcast journalism back 20 years." Naturally, I was both proud and elated although too modest to say so, but broadcast journalism recovered with alacrity, my contract wasn't renewed, and the incident was forgotten.
--Nicholas Von Hoffman
Wall Street Journal, p. D10, March 12, 2003

I have posted the two most rousing speeches from Tom Stoppard's excellent play on the subject of journalism, Night and Day.

Those of us forced to read the London papers sometimes speculate about which is greater: the average British hack's sloth, mendacity, ignorance, obsequiousness, capacity for drink, or aversion to paying for that drink. Smart money tends to split between the latter two.
--Larry King, an American journalist in London, April, 2002

Diminished circumstances had no effect on his sense of what was honorable: after The Spectator sent him a check for a piece it had accepted but was unable to run for a lack of space, he refused to write for the magazine again.
--Louis Menand, in a review of The Warden Of English, a biography of Henry Fowler. Menand also notes that "uptight people do not make ideal biographical subjects"
The New Yorker November 26, 2001

Special Terry Pratchett Section

All quotes in this section are from his book The Truth, copyright 2000, published by HarperTorch, New York.

The press waited. It looked now like a great big beast. Soon, he'd throw a lot of words into it. And in a few hours, it would be hungry again, as if those words had never happened. You could feed it, but you could never fill it up. (see similar quote from Arizona Kiss)

"So, what would I be selling, exactly?"
Just space? Nothing? Oh, I can do that. I can sell nothing like anything. It's only when I try to sell something that everything goes wrong.

William just wasn't used to the idea of evaluating words purely in terms of their length, whereas she'd picked up the habit in two days. He'd already had to stop her calling Lord Vetinari CITY BOSS. It was technically correct that if you spent some time with a thesaurus you could arrive at that description, and it did fit in a single column, but the sight of the words made William feel extremely exposed.

[Police captain]We're on the same side here!
[William] No. We're just on two different sides that happen to be side by side.

William reckoned that no matter how big [the new office] was, it would never be neat. Newspaper people thought the floor was a big flat filing cabinet.

[Lord Vetinari] But I thought I should take a moment to come and see this "free press" Commander Vimes has told me about at considerable length... It appears to be bolted down."
[William] Er, no, sir, I mean "free" in the sense of what is printed, sir.
[V] But surely you charge money?
[W] Yes, but...
[V] Oh, I see. You meant you should be free to print what you like?
[W] Well, broadly... yes sir.
[V] Because that's in the--what was that other interesting term? Ah yes... the public interest?
[W] I think so sir.
[V] These stories about man-eating goldfish and people's husbands disappearing in big silver dishes?
[W] No sir. That's what people are interested in. We do the other stuff, sir.
[V] Amusingly shaped vegetables?
[W] Well, a bit of that, sir. Sacharissa calls them human interest stories.
[V] About vegetables and animals?
[W] Yes sir. But at least they're real vegetables and animals.
[V] So... we have what the people are interested in, and human interest stories, which is what humans are interested in, and the public interest, which no one is interested in.
[W] Except the public sir.
[V] Which isn't the same as people and humans?
[W] I think it's more complicated than that sir.
[V] Obviously. Do you mean that the public is a different thing from the people you just see walking around the place? The public thinks big, sensible, measured thoughts while people run around doing silly things?
[W] I think so. I may have to work on that idea too, I admit.

[Lord Vetinari] It amazes me how the news you have so neatly fits the space available. No little gaps anywhere. And every day something happens that is important enough to be at the top of the first page, too. How strange...

[Lord Vetinari] [He spots a typographical error on a page of type which, from where he is standing, is back to front and upside down] Things that are back to front are often easier to comprehend if they are upside down as well. In life, as in politics.

[Lord Vetinari] Bribed? My dear sir, seeing what you're capable of for nothing, I'd hesitate to press even a penny into your hand.

[Note: this is a variation on a piece of doggerel first recited to me by Donald. J. Sterling Jr., editor of The Oregon Journal:

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to.

--Humbert Wolfe (1885-1940), British poet, author. "Over the Fire," bk. 1, The Uncelestial City (1930).]

[defining news]
Go out and find things that people want put in the paper
And things that people don't want put in the paper.
And interesting things.
Like that rain of dogs a few months ago?
There was no rain of dogs two months ago.
One puppy is not a rain. It fell out of a window. Look, we are not interested in pet precipitation, spontaneous combustion, or people being carried off by weird things from out of the sky...
Unless it happens.
Well obviously we are if it does happen. But when it doesn't, we're not. Okay? News is unusual things happening...
And usual things happening...
And usual things, yes. But news is mainly what someone somewhere doesn't want you to put in the paper ...
Except sometimes it isn't.
...News all depends. But you'll know it when you see it. Clear? Right. Now go out and find some.

This is a newspaper isn't it? It just has to be true until tomorrow.

END Special Terry Pratchett Section

Special H.L. Mencken Section

All successful newspapers are ceaselessly querulous and bellicose. They never defend anyone or anything if they can help it; if the job is forced on them, they tackle it by denouncing someone or something else.
--Prejudices, First Series (1919) Ch 13

How does so much [false news] get into the American newspapers, even the good ones? Is it because journalists, as a class, are habitual liars, and prefer what is not true to what is true? I don't think it is. Rather, it is because journalists are, in the main, extremely stupid, sentimental and credulous fellows -- because nothing is easier than to fool them -- because the majority of them lack the sharp intelligence that the proper discharge of their duties demands.
--Prejudices: A Selection, p. 220

A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.
--A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)

Why assume so glibly that the God who presumably created the universe is still running it? It is certainly perfectly conceivable that He may have finished it and then turned it over to lesser gods to operate. In the same way many human institutions are turned over to grossly inferior men. This is true, for example, of most universities, and of all great newspapers.
 Minority Report : H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)  p. 298

End Special H.L. Mencken Section

The difference between managing and editing is that a word doesn't tell you to go f*** yourself when you tell it to move.
--Louise Kohl, one-time editor of MacUser
quoted by Dan Rosenbaum, July 20, 2001

On behalf of the newspaper industry (new, cost-cutting motto: ``All the News That'') I wish to announce some changes we're making to serve you better. When I say ``serve you better,'' I mean ``increase our profits.'' We newspapers are very big on profits these days. We're a business, just like any other business, except that we employ English majors.
--Dave Barry
Miami Herald, May 20, 2001

An editor without a magazine is like a jockey without a horse. When you see a jockey standing there without being up on a horse, they seem little and not very impressive. I was riding a lame horse, but I still enjoyed it.
--Frank Lalli (ex-Fortune, ex-George)
January 2001 speech to the American Society Of Magazine Editors.

We must express the view, based on our empirical observations, that a substantial number of journalists are ignorant, lazy, opinionated, and intellectually dishonest. The profession is heavily cluttered with aged hacks toiling through a miasma of mounting decrepitude and often alcoholism, and even more so with arrogant and abrasive youngsters who substitute 'commitment' for insight. The product of their impassioned intervention in public affairs is more often confusion than lucidity.
--Conrad Black, F. David Radler, and Peter G. White
"A Brief to the Special Senate Committee on the Mass Media from the Sherbrooke Record, the voice of the Eastern Townships," November 7, 1969, p.10. Quote Excerpted in Talk Magazine, Nov. 2000.


The TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs.
--Hunter S. Thompson


A newspaper is not the place to go to see people actually earning a living, though journalists like to pretend they never stop sweating over a hot typewriter. It is much more like a brothel - short, rushed bouts of really enjoyable activity interspersed with long lazy stretches of gossip, boasting, flirtation, drinking, telephoning, strolling about the corridors sitting on the corner of desks, planning to start everything tomorrow. Each of the inmates has a little specialty to please the customers. The highest paid ones perform only by appointment; the poorest take on anybody, The editors are like madams - soothing, flattering, disciplining their naughty, temperamental staff, but rarely obliged to satisfy the clients personally between the printed sheets.
--British journalist Alan Brien


The world's three oldest professions are prostitution, spying and journalism. The last one has small elements of the first two but it doesn't pay you as well. However, it won't land you in jail either in a civilized country.
--Frank T. Csongos, UPI


I can tell you what its like to work for a newspaper. Imagine a combine, one of those huge threshing machines that eat up a row of wheat like nothing, bearing right down on you. You're running in front of it, all day long, day in and day out, just inches in front of the maw, where steel blades are whirring and clacking and waiting for you to get tired or make one slip. The only way to keep the combine off you is to throw it something else to rip apart and digest. What you feed it is stories. Words and photos. Ten inches on this, fifteen inches on that, a vertical shot here and a horizontal there, scraps of news and film that go into the maw where they are processed and dumped onto some page to fill the spaces around the ads. Each story buys you a little time, barely enough to slap together the next story, and the next and the next. You never get far ahead, you never take a breather, all you do is live on the hustle. Always in a rush, always on deadline, you keep scrambling to feed the combine. That's what it's like. The only way to break free is with a big story, one you can ride for a while and tear off in pieces so big, the combine has to strain to choke them down. That buys you a little time. But sooner or later the combine will come chomping after you again, and you better be read to feed it all over again.
--Ray Ring
from the novel Arizona Kiss


THE DAILY FISH wrap. A 19th century Irish immigrant named O'Reilly called the newspaper ``a biography of something greater than a man. It is the biography of a DAY. It is a photograph, of twenty four hours' length, of the mysterious river of time that is sweeping past us forever. And yet we take our year's newspapers -- which contain more tales of sorrow and suffering, and joy and success, and ambition and defeat, and villainy and virtue, than the greatest book ever written -- and we use them to light the fire.''
--Adair Lara
Columnist, San Francisco Chronicle, December 30, 1999


Experienced newspaper reporters arrive at middle age with a memory surrounded by a bodyguard of ironies. The reporter is always on the borders of someone else's country, his papers never quite in order. However much e knows, he can never know enough. The dispatch written with utter confidence turns out to be incomplete or wrongheaded. The dispatch written on instinct alone turns out to be God's truth. The best and most faithful of these characters come to understand that in some profound sense they are owned by their memories, and that in turn their own angle of vision -- in essence, whether they see themselves as insider or outsider, paleface or redskin -- depends on the earliest circumstances of their own lives, their childhood fears and joys, and on how danger was defined, and how it all fit in. In the summing-up, what is to be done?
--Ward Just
Reviewing Max Frankel's The Times of My Life in the Sunday New York Times, March 7, 1999


If I have to do all this superficial crap you've assigned me, I need time to do it in depth.
--Jon Carroll
San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 16, 1987
quoting a fellow newspaper writer

A Journalist is a machine that converts coffee into copy.
-- Michael Ryan Elgan (1961-?)
Managing Editor, Editor, Windows Magazine

Of all the people expressing their mental vacuity, none has a better excuse for an empty head than the newspaperman: If he pauses to restock his brain, he invites onrushing deadlines to trample him flat. Broadcasting the contents of empty minds is what most of us do most of the time, and nobody more relentlessly than I.
-- Russell Baker
Lears Magazine

I would have to watch out at the White House, as I did at CBS, for the kind of editors who want to sit around and give you their opinions on things instead of concentrating on the text and catching your factual mistakes. Catching mistakes is hard, you have to know things like facts and numbers and names; you have to be awake. Anybody can have an opinion. This is not to say that good editors don't notice things like the quality of the writing, they do, and when it's low they hope you'll be fired, which you probably will be. But the first thing a good editor does is catch your dumb mistakes; all else, as they say, is commentary.
--Peggy Noonan
What I Saw At The Revolution

... It was the idea of facing a future skimming the surface of life, winging my way in and out of other people's crises, confusions, and passages, engaging them enough to get the story, but never enough to be indelibly touched by what I had seen or heard.
--Anna Quindlen
New York Times Columnist, in One True Thing, her novel about a magazine journalist

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

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

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

I believe in equality for everyone, except reporters and photographers.

The press is a blind old cat yelling on a treadmill
--Ben Hecht, in his novel Erik Dorn

Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.
--Ben Hecht

If God himself reached down into the muck and mire, he could not raise a journalist up to the depths of degradation!
--The old country doctor in
Nothing Sacred
a 1937 journalism film written by Ben Hecht

The four pillars of wisdom that support journalistic endeavors are: lies, stupidity, money-grubbing, and ethical irresponsibility.
--Marlon Brando
June 19, 1995
to reporters questioning him about the dissent of the set of Divine Rapture
Production stopped on July 24, 1995

In the hierarchy of predatory animals, Journalists are the carrion eaters.
--Jacques Welter
in November, 1984 on the occasion of his changing professions from Journalism to the computer industry.

It sometimes takes a while for executives to figure out that the reporters they think of as little bugs to be squashed or spun can be more powerful than they are.
---Jonathan Alter
Newsweek, August 14, 1995

The media only report stupid or careless answers, not stupid or unfair questions.
--Colin Powell
My American Journey, Random House, 1995

A curious journalist-those words should be redundant, but, alas, I have to tell you they are not.
--Charles Peters
Washington Monthly, July/August 1995

Cybermedia will make every man his own editor, which in turn makes every writer a fool. The Internet will transmit misinformation very efficiently. We will miss the gatekeepers.
--Neal B. Freeman
National Review, Dec. 11, 1995

Donald A. Davis Section
Bureau Manager, UPI Boston (BH), March 1975 (spoken to Paul Schindler)

Anyone who edits their own copy has a fool for an editor.

With the possible exception of God during the writing of the Bible, every writer in history has needed an editor. So do you.

The Bible tells the story of the creation of the world in 800 words. Surely you can do a two-car fatal in 750.


Every good journalist is aware that his trade may one day go the way of phrenology--and, what's more, the population will hardly protest the extinction.
--David Remnick
The New Yorker, Jan. 29, 1996

Yelling about the media is like bellowing at the umpire. Maybe it can't change the calls reporters and editors made about yesterday's story, but it might make a difference in tomorrow's.
--Eleanor Randolph
LA Times, July 22, 1996

It takes great self-confidence to write a newspaper column. Some might say it takes arrogance. Be that as it may, my willingness to pronounce on a great many matters of which I have little or no knowledge is one of my prime qualifications for this trade.
--Russell Baker
The New York Times, August 6, 1996

Am I surprised that Joe Klein [pseudonymous author of Primary Colors which he denied writing] lied? No, because in my opinion reporters lie all the time.
--James Carville
The New Republic, August 12, 1996  

People tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember. Writers are always selling somebody out.

-Joan Didion
National Public Radio, 1977...

Fiction is a bridge to the truth that journalism can't reach.
--Gonzo Journalist Hunter Thompson
USA Today, March 26, 1998

These days there's all too much coverage of pesudo-events about extraordinarily inauthentic people doing inauthentic things.
--David Halberstam
Vanity Fair, March 1998

The fear of missing out means today's media, more than ever, hunts in a pack. In these modes, it is like a feral beast just tearing people and reputations to bits. But no-one dares miss out.
--British Prime Minister Tony Blair, June 12, 2007

What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.
--British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, 1931. He was attacking the leading press barons of his day (Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere); the phrase was suggested by Baldwin's cousin Rudyard Kipling

“I do not fool around with newspapers,” Mattie says. “The paper editors are great ones for reaping where they have not sown. Another game they have is to send reporters out to talk to you and get your stories free. I know the young reporters are not paid well, and I would not mind helping those boys out with their ‘scoops’ if they could ever get anything right.”

--Charles Portis, once the Paris Bureau Chief of the Herald Tribune, put these words in the mouth of the young girl Mattie Ross in his novel True Grit.

What the proprietorship of these papers is aiming at is power, and power without responsibility — the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.
--British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, 1931. He was attacking the leading press barons of his day (Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere); the phrase was suggested by Baldwin's cousin Rudyard Kipling

"There’s so much garbage being disguised as fact and so many gasbags posing as sages; somebody has to cut through the crap. That’s the job of reporters, and their job will be more important than at any time in history."

"Retail corruption is now a breeze, since newspapers and other media can no longer afford enough reporters to cover all the key government meetings. You wake up one day, and they’re bulldozing 20 acres of pines at the end of your block to put up a Costco. Your kids ask what’s going on, and you can’t tell them because you don’t have a clue. That’s what happens when hometown journalism fades — neighborhood stories don’t get reported until it’s too late, after the deal’s gone down. Most local papers are gasping for life, and if they die it will be their readers who lose the most."

—Carl Hiaasen, newspaper columnist and novelist of the weird. Carl Hiaasen on Human Weirdness, Smithsonian Magazine, August 2010

From the book Great Amerian Wit by Robert E. Drennan, quoting New York Newspaper Columnist Heywood Broun, at the peak of his career in the 1920s and 1930s.

Some of my best friends are newspaper photographers... and yet I feel that when one or two are gathered together for professional reasons you have a nuisance, and that a dozen or more constitute a plague.

There are exceptions, but when a play includes Jim Swift--reporter of the Times Telegram, you can be pretty sure that presently there will appear a character compounded out of Iago and the protagonist of Ten Nights in a Barroom.

You might not mind so much if your sister married one of them, and two or three asked in after dinner would not for a certainty spoil the party, but taken as a group drama critics of New York are so much suet pudding.

Revision History

Content Revised 3.25.21 [add second JFK quote]
Content Revised 2.18.20 [add Charles Portis]
Content Revised 2.19.21 [add Mencken]
Content Revised 6.13.19 [add Heywood Broun]
Content Revised 5.17.19 [add Blair and Baldwin, both mentioned on a BBC comedy show]
Content Revised 10.17.11 [add License of the Press link]
Content Revised 10.14.11 [add Mark Twain link, revive Cesar Soriano link]
Content Revised 7.2.07 [several positive, 2 negative quotes added]
Content Revised 5.18.07 [Larry King quote added]
Content Revised 5.4.07 [two Keillor quotes added, 1 positive, 1 negative]
Content Revised 2.10.07 [positive quotes added]
Content Revised 2.04.06 [Molly Ivins, Paul Schindler quotes at top]
Content Revised 2.04.06 [1 new quote at top]
Content Revised 8.3.05 [2 new quotes at top]
Content Revised 8.2.05 [2 new quotes at top]
Content Revised 3.13.03 [1 new quote at top]
Content Revised 10.3.02 [Link to Stoppard Night and Day quotes]
Content Revised 4.22.02 [New British journalist quote added, format changed]
Content Revised 2.17.02 [Ray Ring's Name Corrected]
Content Revised 10/31/01 [Terry Pratchett section added at the top]
Content Revised 7/20/01 [1 new quote at the top]
Content Revised 5/20/01 [1 new quote at the top]
Content Revised 3/4/01 [link to Soriano quote page]
Content Revised 1/31/01 [1 new quote at the top]
Content Revised 11/13/00 [1 new quote at the top]
Content Revised 10/02/00 [1 new quote at the top]
Content Revised 9/10/00 [2 new quotes at the top]
Content Revised 3/10/99 [1 new quote at top]
Content Revised 5/28/98 [1 new quote at bottom]
Content Revised 10/1/97 [1 new quote at bottom]
Content Revised 12/2/96 (4 new quotes at bottom)
Format Revised 2/1/96