Journalism Quotes


  • Journalism largely consists in saying “Lord Jones Dead” to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
    o G. K. Chesterton, The Wisdom of Father Brown[1]

  • “It is the one great weakness of journalism as a picture of our modern existence, that it must be a picture made up entirely of exceptions. We announce on flaring posters that a man has fallen off a scaffolding. We do not announce on flaring posters that a man has not fallen off a scaffolding. Yet this latter fact is fundamentally more exciting, as indicating that that moving tower of terror and mystery, a man, is still abroad upon the earth. That the man has not fallen off a scaffolding is really more sensational; and it is also some thousand times more common. But journalism cannot reasonably be expected thus to insist upon the permanent miracles. Busy editors cannot be expected to put on their posters, “Mr. Wilkinson Still Safe,” or “Mr. Jones, of Worthing, Not Dead Yet.” They cannot announce the happiness of mankind at all. They cannot describe all the forks that are not stolen, or all the marriages that are not judiciously dissolved. Hence the complex picture they give of life is of necessity fallacious; they can only represent what is unusual. However democratic they may be, they are only concerned with the minority.”
    o G. K. Chesterton, The Ball and the Cross (1910)

  • “My problem, and our problem — I think this is a view that’s pretty widely shared in the news business — is, you know, we, and I don’t just mean The Times, are too ready to publish the blandest of quotes, or, sometimes, the idlest of gossip and innuendo, behind a cover of anonymity. I think it cheapens the currency of source protection.”
    o Bill Keller, The New York Times executive editor, about anonymous sources, in On the Media, 13 May 2005

  • “So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here—not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.”
    o Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

  • “Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer? Agnew was right. The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits— a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
    o Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971)

  • The Web sites of interest groups generally advance the cause of journalganda, in that everything is presented through the filter of the interest group. […] It is an odd, unreal world but very important because it’s where partisans can go to have their thoughts re-enforced. There’s nothing like journalganda to make you feel absolutely certain you are correct, no matter what your position. […] Real journalism can always be identified by the way it makes normal people sometimes feel very uncomfortable about the world.
    o Chicago Tribune, “The problem with today’s ‘journalism'”, by Charles M. Madigan, October 25, 2005 [1]

  • “The press is just a bunch of rubbish anyway. So — you know — they never get a story right anyways, and it’s always rumors and gossip and, um, over-sensationalized shit.”
    o Christina Aguilera, interview in the Christina Aguilera: Music Box Biographical Collection

  • Jake: What about freedom of the press?
    Weyoun: Tell me you’re not that naïve.
    o Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, “Rocks and Shoals”

  • “I do not care for the big ‘ideas’ of novelists. Novels are wonderful, of course, but I prefer newspapers.”
    o Will Cuppy in Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft (eds.), Twentieth Century Authors, New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1942, p.342.


  • “A news sense is really a sense of what is important, what is vital, what has color and life — what people are interested in. That’s journalism.”
    o Burton Rascoe

  • “Absolute truth is a very rare and dangerous commodity in the context of professional journalism.”
    o Hunter S. Thompson

  • “I have spent half my life trying to get away from journalism, but I am still mired in it — a low trade and a habit worse than heroin, a strange seedy world full of misfits and drunkards and failures.”
    o Hunter S. Thompson

  • “I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.”
    o Tom Stoppard

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

  • “Most rock journalism is people who can’t write interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.”
    o Frank Zappa, 1978

  • “One young man asked, ‘Professor Davies, how can a practicing journalist find time to write fiction?’ ‘Oh dear,’ Davies replied. ‘That question shows a great deal of innocence about journalism.'”
    o Robertson Davies, reported by Jim Tubman

  • “Some people will say that words like scum and rotten are wrong for Objective Journalism — which is true, but they miss the point. It was the built-in blind spots of the Objective rules and dogma that allowed Nixon to slither into the White House in the first place. He looked so good on paper that you could almost vote for him sight unseen. He seemed so all-American, so much like Horatio Alger, that he was able to slip through the cracks of Objective Journalism. You had to get Subjective to see Nixon clearly, and the shock of recognition was often painful.”
    o Hunter S. Thompson

  • “You’re miserable, edgy and tired. You’re in the perfect mood for journalism.”
    o Warren Ellis

  • “The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.”
    o Oscar Wilde

  • “In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs forever and ever.”
    o Oscar Wilde

  • “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.”
    o Oscar Wilde

  • “Its failings notwithstanding, there is much to be said in favor of journalism in that by giving us the opinion of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”
    o Oscar Wilde

  • “Journalism is literature in a hurry.”
    o Matthew Arnold

  • “Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy glossy.”
    o Walter Cronkite

  • “If you can’t say something nice about someone, become a journalist.”
    o Bob Boze Bell (supposedly quoting his mother)

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